This dessert is nuts! Well, anyone who makes this dessert nuts and I guess that says a lot about me. I attempted this dessert for our final Christmas celebration of the year. I was going to be in the presence of two wonderful cooks and since they think of me as the “baker,” I had to deliver the goods. This looked fancy enough and it allowed me to make something I have never made before – meringues!
If you find yourself with a free 3 hours, go for it. The nice thing is, you can make each of the separate parts separately and assemble them for serving. Don’t assemble it too far ahead though, the meringues soak up the liquid from the custard.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and tape the sides down to make sure that the paper lies flat. (I used blue painters tape as you can see – scotch tape doesn’t work at all)
Separate 6 eggs and set the yolks aside.
In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, combine the sugar and egg whites. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. I actually dipped my finger in and rubbed the whites between my fingers to make sure the sugar dissolved.
Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved, transfer to a standing mixer and beat until you have stiff peaks. You can tell you have a stiff peak when you tap the eggs with your beater and they stand straight up. I made this easy by using my standing mixer bowl on my double broiler.
Fold in the vanilla very gently. Fill your pastry bag about ½ full and pipe the meringues onto the parchment paper. I didn’t have a big enough tip to make the meringues in one quick circle, so I went over them a second time to increase their height. ( I am NOT a meringue expert, but it was fun to try something new and they look SO cool!)
Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours. The meringues will be crisp and lightly brown. I actually tapped on the tops to see how hollow they sounded. Do NOT remove them from the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them there. Once completely cool, store the meringues in an airtight container until you are ready to serve. (Sorry for the strange blue light on this photo.)
Here comes the not so fun part. The efficient way to do this is to make the custard while the meringues are baking. I, however, did not do this. I made the meringues the night prior to the custard and made the process VERY long.
In a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and flour. At the same time, heat the milk in a saucepan until it just starts to foam around the sides. You do not want it to boil.
Add the milk (mixed with the tsp vanilla) and pour slowly into the eggs. Whisk until well combined. Now, you just have to stand there – forever. It takes over an hour for the custard to reach the right thickness. I stood there with the latest People magazine so I didn’t get too bored.
Once it is the right thickness – feels like pudding – push through a fine mesh strainer and cover with plastic wrap. You need to have the plastic wrap right on top of the pudding so that it doesn’t form a skin. Allow it to cool to room temperature prior to storing it the refrigerator.
Prepare your whipping cream by mixing the heavy cream with a little bit of sugar – about ¼ cup. Toast the sliced almonds at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.
Layer the dessert with a meringue cookie, pudding, whipped cream, and almonds. SERVE!
It is a stellar presentation and a wonderfully tasting dessert. Just be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen.
Angel Icebox Dessert
adapted from Hot Polka Dot
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
3 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint whipping cream
Almonds, sliced and toasted for garnish
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and tape down flat with masking (or painter’s tape.)
Meringue: Mix together egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl and place over simmering water. Dissolve the sugar – takes about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a standing mixer and mix at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in vanilla and fill a pastry bag 1/2 full with meringue. Using a large decorating tip, create rosettes on the baking sheets. Once they are the desired size and height, bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meringues are crisp, slightly browned, and sound hollow when tapped.
Custard: In a heat-proof bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and flour and set over a pan filled with simmering water. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk until foam forms around the edges – do not boil. Stir in the vanilla and then slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking until completely combined. Stirring constantly, cook the custard until it reaches the consistency of thick pudding. Remove from the heat and push through a fine sieve into another bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Assembly: Toast the sliced almonds in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Whisk the whipping cream with a 1/4 cup sugar. On a serving plate, place one meringue cookie, top with custard, whipping cream, and toasted almonds.
So – does anyone else have a dessert that has taken FOREVER, but was totally worth it in the end?