Writing about cakes, baking and the weather feels a little inadequate in the midst of what is going on in the world. Families are being separated, those seeking shelter and stability have been further shaken by the unwillingness of those in power to greet the hurting with open arms, and the marginalized are being pushed further and further to the periphery. The news continues to look pretty bleak and I often, as I’m sure you do, feel helpless to change what’s happening.
I intentionally keep it pretty light around here, partially because I hesitate to share strong opinions so publically but also because this space has become a quiet refuge for me. When I’m stressed or life is feeling out of control I retreat to my kitchen and the comfort of predictable chemistry, it’s one of the most effective ways I’ve found of dealing with the anxiety and bouts of depression I’ve faced for years. Sharing the delicious things that emerge from that process with you is like life springing from an unexpected place, a light shining into so many dark corners.
We don’t usually take Valentine’s Day terribly seriously. We make small gestures but believe that a gift given when it is expected will not demonstrate love the way giving the gift of ourselves every day will. This Valentine’s Day I’m leaning into what it means to love more fully because when our world is plagued with such manifestations of un-love that there’s nothing else we can do. My hope is that like the rose in Hafiz’s poem, we feel the encouragement of light so we too can fearlessly share our beauty with the world. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.
It Felt Love
Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
It felt the encouragement of light
We all remain
- 3 egg whites
- 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ tsp vanilla bean powder, optional
- cocoa powder, optional
- Position the oven racks in the upper and lower middle positions and preheat to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Wipe a whisk and the metal bowl of an electric mixer with lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Fill a saucepan with about an inch of water and heat until simmering.
- Place the egg whites and granulated sugar into the metal bowl, then position the bowl over the saucepan. The bowl should fit snugly but should not touch the water to keep the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until a candy or
instant-readthermometer reads 115 degrees or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- Remove from heat and whip the mixture on high speed until the meringue is fluffy and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Make the ganache while you wait on the meringue to cool. Gently fold the vanilla bean powder and sifted powdered sugar into the mixture with a spatula.
- Place large spoonfuls of meringue in rough circles about ¾ inch tall and 3 inches round on the parchment paper. I had enough meringue to make about 14
meringues,or 7 meringue sandwiches. Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until the bottoms sound hollow when you tap them. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door (I use a wooden spoon), leave the meringues in the oven to cool for about 30 minutes, this will help keep them from cooling too quickly which causes cracking.
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into bits
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2½ tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche (sour cream works in a pinch)
- Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Warm the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and allow it to sit for a minute undisturbed, then gently mix until smooth. Stir in the creme fraiche (or sour cream) and refrigerate for about an hour, or until the ganache is thick enough to spread.
- To assemble, smooth a spoonful of ganache onto one meringue, then gently sandwich with the second meringue and place in the fridge to set the ganache (about 10 minutes)
- Sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve. They'll keep well for a couple of days, but I doubt they'll last that long.