Raspberry passion fruit tartletes with torched meringue

This is what I chose to bake for my second class on Meringue, basically because it is the only recipe that used Italian Meringue and I wanted to give it a try. It wouldn’t be daunting as long as I’m under guidance, would it?

I must admit, there was a tinge of fear as I told Chef Elise that I wanted to go for that but her approving nod assured me and I was all set to go. Since the class is only four hours, she handed me the Pate Sable dough which was all done so that I could concentrate on the fruit curd and meringue. So, what I needed to do was to roll out the dough and cut into small disks before placing them into the tartletes, chilling in the fridge for 30 minutes and then blind-baking them.

When the dough was rolled out and being chilled in the fridge (12 of them), I went on to prepare the passion fruit curd.

6 oz. passion fruit puree (I dislike measurement in oz.!!!)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold cut into tablespoons

In a small saucepan, heat the passion fruit puree and half of the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the puree begins to bubble around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and salt until well combined and homogenous. Slowly pour the heated puree over the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Pour the mixture into a stainless steel sauce pan and add the butter. Whisk constantly over high heat until the mixture is thick and the temperature reads 175F or steam rises off the surface.

Strain the curd into a bowl set over an ice bath. Stir periodically to prevent a skin from forming over the top.


While waiting for the puree to cool and the tartletes baked, it’s on to prepare Italian Meringue! Italian meringue is the lightest and, on average, the sweetest of all meringues.

6 oz. sugar, divided, 3oz. and 3 oz.
1 oz. water
4 oz. egg whites (each egg contains 1 oz. of white)

To prepare the syrup, add 3 oz of sugar and the water in a saucepan, preferably with a spout for pouring the syrup in a thin stream. Stir to thoroughly moisten the sugar, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir while you are cooking the sugar because syrup splashed on the sides of the saucepan dries and produces unwanted sugar crystals. Yours truly, not knowing this, stirred happily.

At this point, I started to call out to Chef Elise, “I need the thermometer!” She went around and after a failed attempt to fetch the measuring device, “I’ll show you how to gauge without the thermometer.” NICE!

Right after the syrup comes to a boil, some sugar crystals will form on the sides of the saucepan. Chef Elise used a moistened pastry brush (with little water) to wash down the sides to dissolve the crystals. This is to prevent caramelisation, she said.

While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites into the mixer and whip on high speed until they reach soft peaks. When they reach soft peaks, turn the mixer to medium speed and add the remaining 3 oz of sugar. Continue whisking the whites in medium speed until the sugar mixture is ready/ reaches 245F.

So how to tell when the syrup reaches 245F which is the stage we want the syrup to be at. Initially, the syrup will appear in small bubbles in quick boiling motion but when it is ready, the bubbles slow down and appear to be bigger. This is the stage that it is READY!

Slowly pour the cooked sugar/syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream while you whip the whites at high speed. The meringue will rise and become very light. Avoid pouring the syrup onto the wire whip or it will splatter around the sides of the bowl and whip for 5 minutes on medium speed. Continue whipping the meringue on low speed until ready to use.

To assemble the tartletes, spread 1-2 tbsp of raspberry jam into the bottom of each tartlet shell. Chef suggested that I pipe the passion fruit curd so that it would be neater and definitely more presentable.

And then on to pipe the meringue! Then using a culinary torch, brown the outside of the meringue. I was exhilarated to use the torch and invited my classmates to try it too.

 

What fun!

Braised Pork Ribs with Coca-cola

This dish came rather by chance when Dom sent me an email about the 3rd season of Masterchef in Aussie Land and a recipe that she found interesting. It was fried lamp ribs marinated in coca-cola. I like the idea minus the deep-frying part and sourced for pork ribs instead and found the following recipe from Christine’s recipes ( I love her recipes. Go visit!)

Okay. Now you know I heart cola but that doesn’t mean I consume frequently! All right, that’s besides the point. The dish does not taste of cola though but it was heavenly. The meat fell off the bones and its tenderness melted my heart. This is a must-keep. I won’t follow the recipe religiously though it serves as a guide. Use your tongue/taste-buds instead. It will do just fine, if not better.

Ingredients:
600 gm pork ribs
2 stalks of spring onion, sectioned
4 slices of ginger
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup Coca-cola
1 cup water

Seasoning:
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine or Shaoxing cooking wine
Pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Blanch the ribs  in boiling water for 2 minutes to get rib of any blood and fat. Drain well.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in wok, sauté ginger and spring onion until aromatic.
  3. Add pork ribs, sauté and continue to cook until lightly brown. Pour in the seasonings, mix well.
  4. Transfer all ingredients to a clay pot or a medium pot. Add coca-cola and water. Cover and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the sauce thickens. To me, it is done when the meat falls off the bone easily when I use a fork to remove it and the sauce is right for my taste-buds.

You can add carrots or potatoes or mushrooms too!

Notes on whipping egg whites

Eggs should be separated carefully so that no yolk gets in the whites. Fats, especially egg yolks (which contain emulsifiers as well as fats), interfere with the development of the egg white foam. Even a speck of egg yolk will drastically increase the amount of energy required to produce the foam and will reduce the foam’s stability.

Always use a very clean bowl and whisk to whip egg whites. Do not use plastic bowls since plastic holds fat residue, even after a thorough cleaning.

The fresher the eggs, the more viscous the egg whites. The whites of eggs that are at least 3 days old can actually be whipped to slightly greater volume than those of very fresh eggs. This is an advantage for making souffles, where maximum volume is highly desirable. In pastry making, stability is more important than maximum volume, and whipping fresh whites makes the foam more stable.

While it is easiest to separate eggs when they are cold, it is easier to whip air into warm whites. This egg whites should be allowed to warm to room temperature before whipping.

Use a copper, stainless steel, glass or glazed ceramic bowl to whip egg whites though copper bowls are the best choice. Do not use aluminium, which discolours the whites.

Egg whites sold in a carton does not whip as well.

1 egg white is about 1 ounce.

The addition of cream of tartar while beating egg whites brightens the whites and adds stability. The latter is true for the adding of salt.

Notes gathered from Baking class and The Art of the Cake by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat.