"This is the last time we're walking home from the Holiday Work Party."
"Janie from HR just fell in the gutter."
Now that I've grossed you out, like Inappropriate Teacher Gross-Out levels, by talking about creme brulee, let's do some damage control. I've already downloaded Amy Grant's crossover album, and I've been listening to 'Every Heartbeat' on repeat for the past twelve hours, wearing high-waisted denim culottes, a crushed velvet bodysuit and giant straw hat with poly-fabric flowers around the crown. I also used that instant-perm shampoo, and some Jovan Body Musk. Wholesome.
So if you make creme brulee, you'll have egg whites left over. While I enjoy egg whites, I find that I suddenly turn helpless in their stranded presence. "Wow, don't you guys have parents? They must not love you. You've been sitting on the curb for like two hours. I'm going to get into my mom's car, now. My mom's car, that she drove here in, to pick me up. If you guys are still here in an hour, light your backpack on fire and hope the dude who runs the combination pizza and hookah restaurant next to the mini-mart sees the smoke and thinks someone started up a competing store." No child left behind. In a parking lot. 2008 and beyond!
The other day I watched a 10 minute segment where Martha Stewart made a Buche De Noel that looked like a birch log. This is the sort of thing I enjoy doing with my free time, watching OnDemand cooking show segments. I also like to settle down and weep in front of the computer, watching montages of Britney Spears dance breaks over the years. Ever since I figured out how to use YouTube, I've been your Grandma, finding videos of my favorite things and making you watch them. "Cats batting at goldfish that are for some reason, swimming around in a toilet! Honey come see this." The Britney montages make me sad, for a lot of reasons, and I just feel like maybe I need to stop watching them. Hence the Martha.
Because I have no idea if her actual recipe is available outside of my TV, I used a recipe posted on one of my favorite blogs, "Everybody Likes Sandwiches". I had four egg whites, so I added a few extra tablespoons of sugar, and it all turned out swell, even though I only have a hand mixer. As referenced in my Veruca Salt-like "I want" magazine post, I may try to make real buttercream with the hand mixer soon. I will report back, obviously.
These are fantastic, though top-heavy and wobbly. They are very good, very sweet and charming, just charming. You could make them and bag them up, give them away as little edible gifts, or decorate cakes with them, or just tell people they'll die if they eat them. "But they smell like chocolate."
"Death smells like chocolate."
Adapted from EbLS/Martha Stewart
4 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar + 2 Tbs
Dash of salt
Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup melted white chocolate
Cocoa powder (optional)
In a clean, large bowl beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer (or stand) until voluminous and frothy. Slowly shake in the sugar, reserving a few tablespoons-worth for later. Continue mixing, on medium, then medium-high, then high until egg whites are satiny, shiny and hold a stiff, clingy peak when beaters are lifted. Add the reserved sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. Beat for another three to five minutes until really stiff, and the mixture 'tugs' against the beaters as you work it.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees F. Line two large half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Using a piping bag, either sans or with a really large piping tip, pipe flat circles of varying sizes for mushroom tops, then vertical 'squidges' for the stems -- start with one little plug, then draw the piping bag upwards, using steady pressure until meringue has extruded itself to your desired height(s). Pull away, and later pat down the resulting peak with a finger dipped in cool water.
Bake meringues for at least 1 hour and forty minutes -- check after 1 1/2 hours. The should be dry to the touch, have no color or golden edges, light and lift easily off of the parchment, leaving no sticky patches behind. You may have to remove the smaller caps and stems, and continue baking the larger caps for another 10-15 minutes to really dry them out. Either way, once done, remove from the baking sheets and cool completely on a rack, to promote air circulation. When all pieces are cool, use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate on the flat undersides of the caps. Allow to cool or set 90% (surface should be dull, but still somewhat soft -- a line drawn in it should not bleed back together), then do the same with the white chocolate -- however, before this coat has a chance to set completely, use a toothpick to draw "gills" on the underside of each cap -- sort of like the spokes of a bicycle wheel, widening as they reach out.
Gently, with a dab more of bittersweet chocolate if you like, attach suitable stems to each cap and dry upside down. Try to match stems to caps, remembering that the double coat of chocolate will make them a little top-heavy. If you like, you can gently tap a sieve of cocoa powder over the tops of the mushrooms to speckle them. Display, eat or use them to decorate unsuspecting cakes. If you like, store them for a few days -- I left mine out uncovered, on a plate, and they suffered barely any moisture-intake, remaining shatter-crisp and lovely. For those who dared to eat them.