Sunday, December 14, 2008

Busy, Busy Baker

The Holiday season is the busiest time of the year for the baker. Honestly, this is part of the reason I do not work in a commercial bakery anymore. I like to have time off around Christmas to fly back to warm and sunny California and spend time with my family. With that said, while I am working I like to keep busy!

Last night I catered the desserts for a Christmas party, and in the process found my new favorite Christmas dessert. When I do parties, I almost always to petits fours. People just love tiny desserts, and it really makes a dessert spread look special. Not to mention the big eating trend right now- in sweet and savory- is little bites of everything.

The little guys I made last night are the most perfect for a Christmas party! Light buttons of meringue are layered with pillows of spiced whipped cream and topped with jewels of pomegranate. I can't even begin to tell you how beautiful these are. They look like little snowmen with holly berries for decorations or rubies on display.

And they are tasty, too! Between the crunch of the meringue, the softness of the cream, and the burst of juice, the mouth really has a lot of sensations to take in. They were a hit among kids and adults alike. I encourage you to try it!

Note: I used cinnamon instead of anise to give it more of a traditional Christmas flavor. You can use whatever you want to.

Merigue Petits Fours with Anise Cream and Pomegranate (on the right in the picture)

For meringues
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar

For cream and topping
  • 2 teaspoons regular granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

  • Special equipment: a pastry bag fitted with 1/3-inch plain tip; parchment paper; an electric coffee/spice grinder


Make meringues:
Preheat oven to 175°F.

Beat egg whites with salt using an electric mixer at high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add superfine sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks.

Spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe 1 1/4-inch-wide disks (about 1/3 inch high) about 1/2 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake meringues in middle of oven until dry but still white, about 1 1/2 hours, then cool in turned-off oven (with door closed) 1 hour. Transfer meringues on baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.

Whip cream and assemble petits fours:
Finely grind regular sugar with anise in coffee/spice grinder. Beat cream in a bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks, then add anise sugar, beating until it just holds stiff peaks.

Peel meringues from parchment, then dollop 1 teaspoon cream onto each meringue and top with 3 pomegranate seeds.


The Saunders said...

So when are you moving back, so you can cater one of my parties. I tell you, I may be good at cooking, but i absolutely hate baking and you my dear are a pro in my book. Very impressive.

Elin said...

Thank you for this!! I have made Nigella Lawsons pavlovas many time and LOVE them - but have never thought of making bite-size versions! Genious! :-)