The kid in me loves meringue. This big one, with cocoa in it, is from Whole Foods Market; they often have them in the bakery, and I can see splitting them and topping them with berries for a summer dessert, much like a Pavlova. (Sometimes Rory Philipson at Blue Bottle Cafe in Hopewell has a Pavlova on her dessert menu.)
I’m pretty sure my mother taught me how to bake meringues, but I can’t remember how that came about, or how she used them herself. I think maybe we just ate them as a cookie.
Other awesome desserts are made with meringues, too, such as a marjolaine. The first marjolaine I ever had was at the Union Park dining room in Cape May, many years ago, before I was a food writer.
The perfect ending to that perfect meal was a pistachio marjolaine with ice cream and milk chocolate sauce. The base was the meringue, maybe with crushed pistachios in it. There was maybe a cake layer, which would be typical of a marjolaine, but I can’t recall… I do remember a layer of pistachio ice cream, just about my favorite flavor. And the milk chocolate sauce was perfect, I had to admit, better than dark chocolate, my usual preference, would have been. Clearly, good milk chocolate has its place. And a meringue always hits the spot.
Ah, yes – Meringue -those airy, crunchy, nuggets of temptation. My mother used to make Lemon Merinque pies, from scratch as we used to say, and I couldn’t wait to taste the brown-tipped mile-high topping. (The tart/sweet lemon pudding below was pretty delicious too.)
Since its Mother’s Day coming up, I can share that my mother would let me watch her mastery in the kitchen, but didn’t like to share her recipes or special secrets – especially not with her many sisters who all competed with each other in the cooking/baking department. The legacy, I guess of their father, my grandfather from Romania who had had a restaurant on the lower East Side of New York and who, I recall watching, when I was a child, as he made cole slaw, caressing the strings of cabbage in a bowl, tenderly with his fingers, as if they were a lover.