Calcifer Meringues

howl's moving castle meringues
“May all your bacon burn.”

If you still haven’t watched Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, then I’m pretty sure you are confused (or possibly amused) by today’s post. When I mentioned it to my sister, her reaction was, “That sounds like Lucifer, or a devil.” Actually, a very similar response was echoed by my friend. (They both did not watch the movie.)
Calcifer MeringuesCalcifer is a fire demon and in the English dubbed version of the movie, is voiced by Billy Crystal (aka. Mike Wazawoski from Monsters, Inc., Miracle Max from Princess Bride or Harry from When Harry Met Sally <= my favorite movie of all time!). Incredibly cute and boisterous at times, he is one of the most memorable characters of the movie.making meringuesThe meringue recipe I’m sharing is delicious and can be flavored with different extract or add-ins, but this time I chose to keep it simple by tinting it in different colors and shaping it so it has a flame-like body. Stirring the gel food coloring does deflate the meringue a bit and spooning it onto the parchment paper in layered dollops seems to produce a few cracks in the meringue. This is just a theory because I’ve made this recipe before and it produces very white, no-crack meringues when piped into little shapes.
inside meringue cookieI wanted the meringues to be super vibrant, but this is as bright as I could get them without compromising the structure of the meringue batter. As for the inside of the meringue, the color is much more vibrant on the inside and I am in love with it. Color and small crack issues aside, the meringues are melt-in-your-mouth crisp and has a wonderful marshmallow-y chewy interior. It’s love at
first bite.
calcifer cookies

Calcifer Meringues
Makes 7 Large Meringues

Ingredients
300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
yellow gel food color
orange gel food color
red gel food color
white candy melts
candy eyes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Divide batter evenly into three separate bowls, coloring each portion red, yellow and orange.
  10. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  11. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  12. Taking two spoons, place a dollop of the yellow batter and layer it with the orange and then the red. Repeat until all the meringue batter is used.
  13. Bake about 2-3 hours until they are crisp and hollow.
  14. Turn off oven and let it dry out for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  15. When meringues are completely cool and dry, melt two white candy melt wafers and dot behind two eyes and place the eyes onto the bottom third of Calcifer’s face.
  16. Let candy melt set and you are now ready to enjoy your meringue.

Meringue recipe adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

 

Honey Caramel Cheesecake with Crispy Meringue Bits and Almonds

Honey Caramel Cheesecake 7This is the prettiest dessert I’ve plated so far. I’ve never really mastered the art of plating, but for some reason, I couldn’t help myself when arranging this dessert. It might be because there are so many components to it, or because I was just excited to do something intricate for once, but this one is a stunner for sure, both on the eyes and on the palate.
Honey Caramel Cheesecake 4Honey Caramel Cheesecake 2Sometimes I look at certain recipes and wonder, “Uh…. Yeah, right. Who has the time for that??” I’m thinking this recipe will probably give a lot of people the same thought. I honestly set out with a simple recipe in mind: a honey caramel swirled cheesecake topped with meringue bits. But when I tried this new method of making meringues, I botched the first try and baked the sugar for way too long which resulted in caramelized sugar bits. Luckily, the second time was successful. I have to say, it was worth the trouble because I’ve always had a tough time making meringues that don’t crack or stay perfectly white and this method worked wonders.
meringue flowers caramel shardsIt’s crunchy, crispy, creamy, smooth, nutty, sweet, salty, rich and light. It’s pretty much a party in your mouth.
Honey Caramel Cheesecake 1
Honey Caramel Cheesecake with Crispy Meringue Bits and Almonds

Ingredients:

Honey caramel cheesecake (recipe below)
Honey caramel (recipe below)
Crispy meringue bits (recipe below)
Caramelized sugar bits (recipe below)
Almonds, chopped into small pieces
Maldon sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Trim the edges of the cheesecake to get neat sides.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut cheesecake into long strips, wiping the blade of the knife down after each cut.
  3. Top each cheesecake pieces with crisp meringue bits, caramelized sugar bits, almonds and sea salt.
  4. Optional: put dollops of honey caramel around the edges of the plate and top with sea salt and almond pieces.

Honey Caramel Cheesecake

Ingredients:

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
6 tbsp. heavy cream
honey caramel (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 350˚F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt until a dough forms.
  3. Press dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until homogenous.
  5. Add egg and heavy cream and mix until combined.
  6. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of the flour mixture.
  7. Put dollops of honey caramel and swirl with a toothpick to form swirls.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven until cheesecake is set.
  9. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Honey Caramel

Ingredients:

½ c. honey
¼ c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine honey and cream.
  2. Cook until mixture reaches 238˚F.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and salt.
  4. Cool, and refrigerate if storing for future use.

Crispy Meringue Bits

Ingredients:

150 g. superfine sugar
75 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch of cream of tartar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  10. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a closed star tip, make small flower shapes until you have used up all of the meringue.
  12. Bake about 10-20 minutes until they are crisp and hollow.
  13. Turn off oven and let it dry out for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  14. Remove meringues out of the oven and store in a cool, dry place.

Caramelized Sugar Bits

Ingredients:

50 g. superfine sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in a thin even layer over parchment.
  3. Place sugar into oven until it becomes liquefied and golden brown.
  4. Remove and let stand until completely cool.
  5. Break into small shards of crisp sugar.

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Meringues

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Meringues 1Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!  Chocolate chips are such a simple concept yet so pivotal in the world of baking.  It’s so versatile and can be subbed for chocolate in a lot of recipes.  I always wondered if Ruth Graves Wakefield kicked herself for exchanging her invention for a lifetime supply of chocolates. Chocolate Chip Raspberry Meringues 2I know chocolate chips are synonymous with chocolate chip cookies, but since I just posted a recipe involving a cookie cake, it seemed redundant.  Usually chocolate conjures up rich, heavy and decadent desserts and I ran the opposite direction with it this time.  It’s a light chocolate chip studded meringue cookie sandwiched with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.  It melts in your mouth, but still has a chewy middle.  It’s so yummy and easy to make, yet fancy enough to serve to guests.  In other words, a win-win-win.Chocolate Chip Raspberry Meringues 3Chocolate Chip Raspberry Meringues

Meringues

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 c. sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. mini chocolate chips, divided

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a small pot, fill it with an inch of water and let it come to a simmer.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar.
  4. Place bowl over the small pot and whisk until the mixture reads 160 degrees.
  5. Whip with a stand mixer until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  6. Add in the vanilla and fold in ¾ c. mini chocolate chips.
  7. In a piping bag fitted with a plain tip, pipe half of the batter as 2“ round, flat bases and the other half as 2” round, domed tops.
  8.  Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the cookies are firm and dry to the touch.

Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the whip attachment, add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until soft peaks are just about to form.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and sugar and whip on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. Do not over whip! The cream will turn into butter.

Assembly:

  1. On a round, flat meringue cookie base, arrange raspberries around the circumference of the cookie.
  2. Put about 2 teaspoons of whipped cream in the center of the cookie.
  3. Finish with a domed meringue cookie top.