Friday, December 15, 2006


It's Beginning To Taste A Lot Like Christmas

This has been one strange December. It hasn't seemed like Christmas is coming at all, due in large part to the fact that there isn't a flake of snow to be seen (not that I'm complaining!). It seems so un-Christmasy that I haven't even had the urge to put up our tree yet, and it's ten days away.

One thing that always signals that Christmas is on its way is that I get my annual baking jones. I thought that baking a few fattening treats might just get me in the mood. I spent my day off whipping up butter tarts, empire biscuits (or belgian cookies if you prefer), peanut butter balls, toffee cookies and key lime squares.

While I attempted to make the dough for the empire biscuits, the ancient electric mixer which once belonged to The Squeeze's mother groaned in agony. All I was mixing was room temperature butter and sugar. What I smelled, however, was burning wires. It had a variety of speed settings. High speed had become what low speed once was, and all speeds below high have given the off position some good company. We have had this mixer for eleven years, and The Squeeze's mother probably had it for at least that long before she passed away. So I'm guessing this mixer has a good 25+ years on it. Doesn't owe anyone a thing.

While reading a Martha Steward rag on homemade Christmas gifts, I discovered a recipe for meringue cookies. My mother makes them from time to time, and I was amazed at the lack of ingredients. 3 egg whites, two teaspoons of sugar and a couple of drops of food colour. I knew that I needed to get myself a new mixer before attempting this, so after a good amount of on-line searching and a number of phone calls to local merchants, I finally found a store with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer on sale for $229. That's a savings of $70. Not too shabby.

I brought my new purchase home and unpacked it, eager to try that magical wire wisk. According to the recipe, it would require the egg whites and sugar to be beaten in a stand mixer for about 15 minutes. The Kitchen Aid, however, stated that due to it's power and speed, less time was required to mix most items. About three minutes into the mixing, it appeared the egg whites were already quite stiff. I knocked the fluffy mixture from the wisk, scraped the bowl and added a drop or two of red food colour and began to blend it in. The mixture took on a different appearance. It seemed to have fallen for a moment, but soon began to firm up again. I scooped up some of the mixture and put it in my piping bag and noticed that it seemed rather dry and foam-like. I squeezed out small mounds of meringue onto my parchment lined cookie sheets, but they certainly looked nothing like my mother's or Martha's.

I baked them in the 175 degree oven for the required hour and forty minutes and removed them when the timer went off. This was certainly not my greatest kitchen effort. They looked less like the puffy pink peaks that they should have, and more like one might expect to be shat from Paris Hilton's beloved chihuahua Tinkerbell. Yes, I made several dozen little coils of pink dog turds.

For the past couple of days they have sat dismissed and untouched on the top of my fridge, not in an airtight container as I would have done with their better-looking cousins if all had worked out.

After the madness of the next couple of days of Christmas parties, I'm going to give it another try. I refuse to be beaten, especially by egg whites!

Yikes! $229 for a mixer and on sale? Yup, you're a baker. I love meringues!! Going to send me some? ;-
You certainly wouldn't want any of these ones! I'm sure they would disintegrate in shipping and would look like about a teaspoon of pink dust by the time you got them. Nasty, nasty stuff.
Given my cooking history, do I even need to say that I completely empathize?
Thanks! Misery loves company. ;o) I haven't re-tried it yet, but I'm tempted. They can languish in their tepid oven while I get my tree up.
LOL I can almost imagine the stale pink turds on the fridge in your kitchen. Martha would be proud.
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