Had a very destructive day on Friday. I was going nuts trying to get the girls organised to go and have lunch with my husband when I couldn't find my phone to text him. I employed my standard trick: calling it. It went straight to voicemail. As I had charged it the previous day I knew that it wasn't flat. And that is when I just knew. What could destroy a phone? The washing machine. I find it interesting that my nemesis (laundry) met my disliked phone and together created both new life (well clean washing) and most certainly the death of my phone. We didn't make the park.
Later I decided to try and make brown sugar meringues. I think I've posted before about what a cheap trick meringues can be - easy to make dozens quickly, they look great coloured and flavoured and are super popular with children. I've had brown sugar meringues a couple of times recently and the 'science' behind it interested me. I've always been taught successful meringue/ pavlovas are made by keeping the bowl free of contaminants (particularly oils) and I wondered how sticky brown sugar could actually make a successful meringue (or even trickier, a pavlova).
Anyway, while making the meringues I discovered that the baby absolutely hates the sound of the mixer. So I picked her up. I was using a spoon to pop the little bubbles of brown sugar in the meringue and got distracted by the wiggly baby. The spoon went horizontally through the beaters. The engine of the mixer made what can only be described as a death rattle. And another much loved wedding present went down the gurgler.
Coincidentally it is my birthday tomorrow so my husband didn't even need to come up with birthday ideas! He handed over his Visa card to order a new phone online, and with the other Visa card, and after cashing in a lot of Fly Buys points a lovely Kenwood mixer is mine! I'm going to use it tomorrow for the first time to make myself a scrumptious birthday cake. I'm thinking the Ray McVinnie Smug Carrot Cake that I posted earlier - I've got some cream cheese that I started making this morning that will be perfect for the icing.
Brown sugar meringues/ pavlova: (inspiration from Chocolate Frog Cafe)
NB: This will make a largish pavlova, or about 30-40 smallish meringues.
Four egg whites
240 grams brown sugar (you may prefer to use a 50:50 mix of brown and caster sugar if you don't want the meringue to taste too much like rich toffee. I would definitely recommend dialling it down)
1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
Using an immpecibly clean bowl and beaters beat the egg whites until you get soft peaks. For best results use a glass or stainless steel bowl (not plastic). Gradually add in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Try to break up the brown sugar to avoid too many lumps. If you are making this as a pavlova, the slow addition of sugar (it can take up ten minutes to get it all in) will be a key success factor. Once the sugar has 'cooked' into the egg, and you can no longer see any granules, stop beating. Fold through the cornflour and vinegar.
If making into meringues you can plop the mixture into small dabs on to a tray, or pipe using an attractive-shaped tip. I made big sloppy meringues. If making pavlova pile into a circle in the middle of the tray and heap the mixture on top. Bake at 120 for about an hour and a half (for pavlova) or 45 mins for medium/ large meringues. Turn off the heat and leave to crisp in the oven.
When I made these a dark rich toffee tasting liquid seeped out of the bottom of each meringue. Delicious. It also took a long time to fully crisp up - the oven had been cold for some time before they were truly crisp. If you take them out of the oven before fully crisp they will be very, very chewy.