Sunday, April 3, 2016
Meringue Birch Twigs
This is one of several recipes that I've dreaded making since I got the book and started leafing through the pictures. I dread things when I don't think I can handle the technique or when I can do it but I think it'll end up being such a slipshod job that it will just annoy me. So when Woody was here in the fall, I asked him if he'd help me with the Pink Pearl Lady Cake and these Twigs. "Yes," he said. "No problem. I think Rose and I will be coming to Minnesota in March, so we can do them then." But then I decided that I'd have to do the Pink Pearl cake for Valentine's Day, and I'd just have to muddle through it myself. And I did (muddle). Of course, Rose and Woody were very busy while they were here but about midnight on their last day, I reminded Woody that he was going to help me with these dang sticks. He looked at the clock and said cheerfully, "Sure, no problem. We can just whip them up now." I looked at the clock too, and said, "Oh, I guess I can do it myself." There was, perhaps, just a hint of a martyr's tone in that sentence. But thanks, Woody. You're the only person I know who would agree to help me make meringue twigs at midnight.
Actually, mixing them up, which consisted only of beating egg whites with cream of tartar, sugar, and a few flavorings, was super easy. I wished I could have stopped right there. After all, I've never in my life made birch twigs and never thought my life was lacking something--at least, I didn't think it was lacking meringue birch twigs.
I even bought a #12 thingy just for the occasion. I have a hodgepodge of piping equipment, most of which I've bought in the vain hope that I'd 1) learn to love piping and 2) become good at it.
Putting the meringue in one of my new Wilton disposable bags. At least I'd have the tools to make proper birch twigs.
The shapes of the twigs went all over the place. Some were very flat (I guess I pressed down too hard); some looked like they had some weird birch canker. I learned that birch canker can form "knotty growths on bark and may girdle stems, or the bark may split, revealing dead wood underneath." I thought of claiming that I had deliberately made twigs showing birch tree diseases as an educational tool, but I was pretty sure no one would believe it.
I made a double meringue layer on some of the twigs that I flattened too much. I think that if I made these once a week, it would only take me a year or two to get the hang of it. I briefly ponder the idea of making meringue birch twigs 104 weeks in a row, and I almost forget to breathe.
The chocolate makes them look much more attractive. Even the double decker twigs don't look quite so diseased.
They turn out very crisp and not at all meringue-y in the sense of lemon meringue pie. I used orange oil instead of raspberry, but I'm not so sure that they need flavoring at all, except for the chocolate. When you think "birch tree," you don't think "raspberry" or "orange." Well, you don't think flavor at all. I like raspberry with chocolate and orange with chocolate, but maybe I just like birch tree with chocolate.
Now I'm down to just a few dreaded recipes: the faux gras cream puffs, the pomegranate pie with the meringue crust (meringue again!) and the Brandy Snap Cannoli. (It's a good thing I'm looking forward to making most of the others). What about you? Any recipes that seem daunting? Or that you can't wait to try?