Recipe: Lollipops and meringues
It's fun to cook frivolous sweetmeats sometimes. With sugar being the main ingredient and colouring and essences key, they don't have a regular place in a meal or even a menu.
Sugary edible delicacies are little bits of nonsense, like guest soaps, fabric finger napkins, spray-on facial water, scented drawer bags and floral notepaper. They are part of a time past, all lovely to have but you can certainly live without them. Ideal gifts for people who have everything.
I am including these two rose-hued dainty delights today with school holidays in mind but these are recipes for children who can handle stovetops and electric mixers.
Both require technique, so a guiding hand is needed to achieve the toffee stage in lollipops, or firm peaks in the meringue. Be creative with both the packaging and the list of willing recipients.
RASPBERRY TOFFEE LOLLIPOPS
Makes 10 8.5cm lollipops.
Metal egg rings are widely available at supermarkets and kitchen shops.
10 iceblock sticks
450g (2 1/4 cups) sugar
225g (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp) water
few drops red food colouring
few drops raspberry natural essence
10 lolly bags and ribbon to wrap
Line a 45 by 32-centimetre tray with Teflon sheet or aluminium foil.
To create moulds, lightly grease the inside surface of ten 8.5cm straight-edged cookie cutters or egg rings with baking spray or canola oil. Place iceblock sticks on prepared tray at staggered intervals. Sit moulds on top of sticks so at least 3cm of stick is inside mould. (This 3cm piece of stick will be covered with toffee.)
Place sugar and water into a medium-sized stainless steel pot set over low heat. Stir with a metal spoon until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to the boil without stirring syrup. Reduce heat to medium-high. Simmer syrup until it turns an even golden-brown. Swirl pot at regular intervals to ensure even colour.
Add colouring and essence. Stir as quickly as possible to combine and pour toffee into moulds on prepared tray, aiming to achieve an even thickness.
Allow to set at room temperature. Remove moulds and leave toffee until completely cold. (If you do not have enough of one size mould, use a variety of sizes, or make smaller batches of toffee in order to reuse moulds. Ensure you grease well between batches.)
Once cold, wrap in cellophane bags and tie to seal. Sealed lollipops will keep in the pantry for up to seven days.
CHOCOLATE-COATED RASPBERRY MERINGUE KISSES
Makes 60 baby meringues
2 egg whites, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 smidges pink food colouring (or use a smaller quantity of red)
10-15 drops natural raspberry essence
85g dark chocolate tablet, chopped
2 tsp vegetable shortening or canola oil
Preheat oven to 95 degrees Celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar into a medium-sized heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to touch. The mixture should feel smooth.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed for one minute then increase speed to high. Whisk for five minutes or until soft peaks form.
Add vanilla, colouring and essence. Whisk to combine.
Using two teaspoons, form into 60 small blobs (with 3.5-4cm bases) on prepared trays and, using a table knife, shape each so it has a flick at the top.
Alternatively, fit a piping bag with a 1.3cm plain nozzle and half-fill with meringue mixture; twist bag at the top to expel any air bubbles. Squeeze piping bag at the top, directly over the prepared trays, aiming for 3.5 to 4cm bases. Pipe so that meringues are cone-shaped, with a fine curled tip. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Place kisses into preheated oven and bake for about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or until they are firm to the touch but not browned. Remove from oven and cool.
Place chocolate into a small pot set over a larger pot half-filled with water. Place on a low heat. Add shortening or oil and stir until melted and combined.
Line a tray with Teflon or aluminium foil.
Dip bottom of each meringue into chocolate to coat bottoms and up the sides to about 10mm.
Place, chocolate-dipped edge down, on prepared tray and leave until chocolate has hardened.
Using a palette knife or metal scraper, remove kisses from tray.
Serve immediately or store in a cool place, in a container with one corner slightly ajar, for up to two weeks.
The Dominion Post