For this week's installment of Finish This Sentence Friday (which I keep forgetting about), the sentence we needed to finish was:
I tried to cook ...
Presumably, this was to get everyone to confess to a major kitchen disaster. I'm usually pretty good at salvaging things, but that sentence immediately brought me back to Christmas of 2010, when "I tried to cook [make] a Strawberry Vacherin for a visiting dinner guest from France." One of my nephews had a friend who was to be joining us, so I asked if he had a favorite holiday dessert I could make for him to feel at home. He mentioned the Strawberry Vacherin, which was something new to me, but I'm always up for a challenge.
Now, I've made my fair share of meringue pies, but I had never made meringue cookies or used meringues in any other way. This was described to me as a molded strawberry mousse slathered in whipped cream, then surrounded by the merinques and topped with strawberries. Sounded easy enough. WRONG!
I couldn't for the life of me get the meringues to cooperate. I made a batch that looked beautiful and piped very nicely onto my trays. The problem came when I tried to remove them from the trays - wasn't gonna happen!
I ended up with two large trays of meringue shards! Almost every one of them broke. I don't specifically remember doing this, but it appears that I baked the first batch on waxed paper. I have never baked on waxed paper, so I'll assume I read that in more than one recipe I looked at for reference.
Being determined to have this dessert there for Nick, I went back to the drawing board late on Christmas Eve and whipped up another batch of meringue. This batch was slightly oozey - not nearly as nice as my first batch. I recall posting on Facebook asking for advice about whether to try again on the waxed paper, switch to my favorite (parchment), whether the recipe needed to be tweaked, etc. I was assured by one old high school friend that the absolute best method was to pipe them onto a brown paper grocery bag. Hmmm? OK, since she had experience with this and it had never failed her, that's just what I did. The result?
Yup, more broken ... and not nearly as pretty as the first batch ... meringues. Sigh!
In the end, I managed to piece together a half-a$$ed version with whatever meringues I was able to salvage. There should not be any space between the meringues, but I didn't have enough to go around otherwise. Nick was happy with my efforts, but I was furious. I fully intend to do this again and get it right next time!
This year, we were supposed to be having a friend from Germany join us for Christmas. Lucky for me [and maybe for him], that didn't happen. ;')
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