March 28th, 2013 by Alice Medrich
I tasted my first Meringue Glacé decades ago in Castelnaudary, that French town on the Canal du Midi, renowned for its Cassoulet. I was so full of Cassoulet I should not have even glanced at the dessert menu, but I couldn’t resist the Meringue Glacé. When it came, what was it anyway? Plain-as-can-be meringues with plain vanilla ice cream and plain whipped cream (or maybe it was crème fraîche). But it was so good I remember it now, 40 years later. I’m sure the Cassoulet was nice too, but I don’t recall a a thing about that part of the meal.
The simplest meringue with ice cream and whipped cream still entices me. But I can’t always stop there: a garnish of juicy berries and warm bittersweet chocolate sauce produces even more drama and contrast: hot with cold, creamy with crunchy, sweet with bittersweet. If you turn the meringue into Pavlova, you can also get chewy with gooey!
I love that meringues—simple cookies or elements of a more complex dessert— are easy make and easy to play with. Over the years, I have tried all kinds of inclusions, treatments, embellishments, and flavors, from bananas to bacon (including bananas andbacon). Some of my results are amazing (if I do say), others not so much.
A few of the things I have added to meringues over the decades are:
Espresso powder: very nice
Nuts, raw or toasted, chopped and/or ground: obviously great
Roasted salted nuts with or w/o chopped milk chocolate: terrific
Thai curry peanuts:not as good as I had hoped
Salt and pepper cashews: not as good as I had hoped
Cocoa power: nice enough
Cocoa nibs: good when lots are added otherwise they taste bitter and feel gritty
Chopped chocolate:what’s not to love?
Candied citrus peels: dries out and become too hard to chew
Grated citrus peel: dries out and becomes too hard
Pulverized freeze dried fruit: banana (with or without pecans or coconut) was especially good, as was pineapple (with or without coconut) are especially good
Dried jamiaca blossoms (aka jamaica tea): still a work in progress
Amchur powder: interesting
Peanut butter:fantastic, also almond butter, cashew butter etc.
Peanut butter and jam: good, but a little too sweet
Coconut: always great
Bacon with toasted pecans and milk chocolate: Delish! Recipe to come.
Organic powdered milk: extremely promising
Saffron: promising, not yet perfected
Chestnut flour: amazing
Chestnut flour: amazing
Carrot chips and/or wasabi peas: ok, I ate them up before I made the meringues-will try again
Many of these things ended up as recipes in books, others are yet to come. I have a long list of other things to try…including pulverized dried mushrooms.