Lydia’s way


My late German grandmother would nod in approval if she saw me making this. Although she never said it openly, wasting food was taboo with a capital T for her. Having lived through World War II, her definition of “wasting” was certainly more extreme than my mother’s; and I am yet another generation removed from her parsimony. Still, not using the many egg whites that I have left over from making custards, puddings, crème caramel and the like would never occur to me.

Since I cannot foresee when I will use them, I always freeze the egg whites in small containers. Mostly I use them for meringue cookies with chocolate or coffee flavor, a recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

In July, when I was in charge of bringing ice-cream topping to a meeting of my Master Gardener group, I turned my usual meringue cookies into a crushed version.  I have had several requests for the recipe so here it is:

Crushed Meringue for Ice-cream Topping

3 egg whites

1 cup (200 g) sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons instant espresso or unsweetened cocoa, to taste

Canola oil or another neutral-tasting oil for spraying

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. If using frozen egg whites, thaw them in the refrigerator.

2. Mix the sugar with the instant espresso.

3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil sprayed with oil.

4. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are very stiff, gradually adding the sugar and the vanilla.

5. Spread the batter evenly onto the aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes, until dry to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven but leave the oven on.

6. Transfer the meringue onto a large cutting board and peel off the aluminum foil. It’s OK if it breaks into many pieces, as it will be crushed anyway.

7. Coarsely chop the meringue with a large knife and spread it out on the aluminum foil. Bake for another 30 minutes, until the meringue has barely any moist spots left. Turn off the oven but leave the meringue in with the door closed, which will dry it further.

8. After the meringue is cooled completely, store in tin cans. It keeps for several weeks.

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