I never think to make meringues. That is, I never think to make meringues unless I've made custard first and have a bowlful of leftover whites staring at me with their big doe eyes daring me to pour them down the drain. But aren't these gorgeous? Wouldn't you love to part the tissue paper and find these inside? They're worth separating eggs for, friends, and making custard with the leftover yolks.
Martha wanted these made with peppermint extract and red food coloring, but I had in my cupboard orange extract and orange food coloring. Orange and chocolate are two flavors I think go together very well and are just as seasonally appropriate as peppermint and chocolate, so I thought the substitution a fair one.
Orange Meringues with Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Martha Stewart
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. orange extract
- orange food coloring
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 oz. dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 175°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats and set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a small star tip and set aside.
- Put egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place bowl over simmering water and stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm. Fit bowl onto base of electric mixer and, with whisk attachment, beat mixture until whites are shiny and hold stiff peaks, mixing in orange extract just before they have reached this stage.
- Paint 3 stripes of food coloring on the inside of the pastry bag. Place stiff egg whites in pastry bag and pipe as many small meringues as you can. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until crisp and dry, but not brown. Allow to cool completely(this doesn't take long).
- For the ganache: cut the chocolate into small pieces and then grind into even smaller pieces in a food processor. Bring cream just to the simmer over medium heat. Add cream to food processor and process until ganache is smooth, 20 seconds or so. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool until it is pipeable.
- To assemble: Fit a pastry bag with a small round tip and put ganache in bag. Pipe some ganache on the bottom of one meringue and sandwich it with another, repeat. Place finished meringues on wire racks. Allow ganache to set about 30 minutes. Will keep in airtight containers at room temperature for about 2 days.
Enjoy alongside your next espresso. Wrap in tissue and give away.
Indeed, it was more than fair; it was meant to be. The orange is sweet and high and the bitterness of the dark chocolate brings it back down to earth. This is mimicked by the contrasting textures: the airy lightness of the meringue is countered and complimented by the richness of the ganache. Although the meringue melts almost instantly--disappears well before you've finished the ganache--the orange flavor lingers and mingles with the chocolate, giving your entire mouth something to think about.
I kept the meringues small for several reasons. Mainly I think they're prettier that way. Just as importantly, they're twice as big when two are stuck together and I wanted the finished product to be able to be popped in the mouth and enjoyed in one bite. At this size they're small enough to fit on the saucer of an espresso cup--a nice presentation and an excellent accompaniment. You also get more this way, which can only be a good thing.