Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saffron Nectarines

I knew it. I knew that this saffron abstinence could not last for very long. As I was perusing the meagre content of my store cupboard only ten minutes ago, my eye was drawn to the magic red powder. Coming across a set of eggs that really ought to be eaten soon spurred me onto a foray of yellow meringues, not something I would have thought appealing. I always bake pink meringues but that’s just because I like meringues to look pink, just as I like my bra, knickers, tights, shoes, pashmina, gloves, coat and whip to be pink.

There is something magical though about seeing the egg whites turning yellow as you add a red powder to them and you keep whisking. Gosh, it made me smile and made me feel oh so very clever for rustling up something out of nowhere, that I never tried before and that I think tastes fantastic, hence posting it on here. I must warn you though; saffron meringues do not stay yellow upon cooking. If you want yellow meringues, add a few drops of liquid dye.

6 well ripe nectarines
100g caster sugar
1 sachet of powder saffron
2 egg whites
maple syrup

Line a tray with baking parchment and warm the oven at 170C as you cut the nectarines in two, snap them open and place them cut side up on the tray. I specify that you need well ripe nectarines because, as you will note, they snap open so easily when they are well red (and of course taste so much better too).

Drop a teaspoon of maple syrup in each hollow and set to work on the egg whites. The secret to fab meringues is not a secret at all, but something obvious: the bowl where you do the whipping must be cold and completely grease-free. Start whizzing away; once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar, to which you will have added the powder saffron, one tablespoon at a time. Watch the egg whites going yellow, it really is fun!

Once you have stiff peaks, drop one tablespoon at a time on each nectarine half and then place in the oven for 20 minutes. Resist the temptation to crank up the heat (as I always do... I’ll never learn) towards the end of the cooking, else you’ll get meringues like mine, brown on top. And you know something about meringues, once they go brown on top, they end up tasting brown. Patience is your (and my) friend, my friend.
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