Saturday, June 25, 2005

IMBB 16 - Blueberry Meringues

I'm not sure the world really needed a blueberry meringue, and I have to admit my motives weren't entirely pure when I hit upon the idea. I was trying to think of something for this month's IMBB, which is hosted by Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant and has a theme of Eggs. Meringue kisses seemed like a good idea, but I needed a twist - something that would make the little meringues my own. I didn't have to think about it very long. With my blueberry bush yielding three pounds of berries every couple of days, working blueberries into this IMBB was not just a given, it was almost a necessity!

I'm not sure I have ever made meringue before, so I looked around on the web and in a couple of cookbooks to get a feel for the basic proportions and techniques. Generally, you want to use 1/4 cup of sugar for each egg white and then 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter to stabilize the foam. I had trouble finding other recipes that incorporated liquid flavorings other than small amounts of extracts, so I wasn't sure if adding the blueberry would work. I finally found one recipe that used 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 4 egg whites, so I settled on using 4 egg whites and 2 tablespoons of blueberry something or other.

Originally, I though I would make a blueberry syrup, but I ended up with something more like a blueberry sauce. Actually, I think the thicker sauce was probably a good thing. I was able to fold it in at the end without much trouble at all. If I were to do this again, I think I might try increasing the amount of blueberry sauce just a little - to increase the color and flavor. These have a definite fruity taste, but I'm not sure that it's a recognizable blueberry taste. I find that meringues are a little sweet for my taste, but I brought these to a family gathering this evening and they were very well received.

Blueberry Meringues

For blueberry sauce:
1 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs lemon juice

For meringues:
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tbs blueberry sauce

Preheat oven to 225 F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment.

Place blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until all the blueberries have popped and the sauce is a deep purple color. Push through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Cover and set aside to cool.

Separate 4 eggs and place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer. Cover and leave out so that the egg whites can come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Add cream of tarter and then beat with the whip attachment until foamy. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until very thick and stiff peaks form. [One recipe I referred to said to beat until the whites were no longer shiny, while another said to beat until glossy peaks formed. Huh? Doesn't glossy = shiny? I saw some other advice online which was more helpful. Rub a little of the meringue between your thumb and finger. The sugar should be completely dissolved - it shouldn't feel gritty.] Remove from mixer and fold the blueberry sauce into the meringue with a rubber spatula.

You can either spoon these out with a teaspoon, shape them with a pastry bag, or use a large plastic bag (I used a gallon-sized zip-loc bag) with one corner trimmed off. I tried spooning some out and then decided to use a plastic bag. Besides shaping them more uniformly, it is much easier to place them close together on the cookie sheet if you use either a pastry bag or a plastic bag.

I baked them for an hour and a half and then turned the oven off and left them in the hot oven for another hour. They were perfectly dry inside, though the ones on the top shelf were very, very slightly browned.

For the picture above, I served them with a little of the extra sauce, but they're good just as they are too.


santos. said...

>2 tablespoons of blueberry something or other


fantastic job there, cathy! i'm hopeless on the meringue front. bill granger has a recipe for meringues with fresh cream and blueberries--i'd rather try yours.

Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

Wow these look great! I'm glad you found something to do with those blueberries of yours. I just bought some blueberries...I wish I could have some in the yard like you do.

Nupur said...

Ooh your photo looks beautiful with the contrasting colors! And the meringues are so perfectly shaped...but its still too ambitious for me to try!

Chocopie said...

Oh my god, I'm hungry for Meringues. I have never seen blueberry meringues. Certainly, its favor is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Neat idea! I've never made meringues, but I have always wanted to! :) A clever use for blueberries as well as eggs.

Cathy said...

Hi Santos - thanks, that's high praise - I know how much you like Bill! Although these were very easy, I may have just gotten lucky. I did feel like I was stumbling around in the dark when it came to deciding how long to beat the meringue and the temperature and cooking time.

Hi Reid - thanks! I am really enjoying the blueberries. Going without the bird net is working great! It's easier to pick them without the net and the bush doesn't get all bent out of shape. I'm happier, the bush is happier and the birds are happier!

Hi Nupur - thanks! Believe me, they're not at all ambitious. If you like meringue, I say give it a try! Using the plastic bag to squirt them out really worked like a charm.

Hi Chocopie - it might be interesting to try other fruit flavors too. I was thinking maybe sour cherry...

Hi Alice - thanks! I'm going to have to find some more uses for blueberries, they're piling up in the refrigerator!