The January Daring Cooks Challenge will ensure that no matter where in the world you are, you will have a bit of snow! Kim from Ask a Foodie challenged us to make Oeufs à la Neige, or “Eggs in Snow”.
Oeufs à la neige or Snow Eggs is a favourite of my husband. Whenever we were in France and it's on the menu he often orders it. My cooking/baking to do list had this for a long time. At last this challenge from the Daring Cooks finally forced me to confront this intimidating recipe.
And challenged indeed I was. I halved the recipe since this was an experiment I didn't want to waste too much if anything goes wrong. The meringue was easy enough to do with the help of my hand mixer. But the poaching was something else. I had to emphasize in the recipe that the poaching liquid should be barely simmering. Mine seemed like it was quite hot because the meringues were getting overcooked into shriveled white things. So the poaching time was done very quickly more like 30-45 seconds instead of 2 minutes per side. Also, when you shape the meringues, make sure to use *big* spoons not like the dessert spoons I used. Because they do shrink in size a little after poaching.
Then the caramelised almond slivers came into play. Well I did it all right (although it was a little on the dark caramel side) and set it out in the dining table to cool. By the time I was to sprinkle it on the snow eggs almost all of it was gone! The husband and kids discovered them! Oh well, there was just enough bits I scraped to put as topping.
What of the dessert? How did it go? I was quite eggy, as my daughter said. Well that is a given! For me and the husband, it was very nice although the custard was a bit too sweet for me. I made the adjustments in the recipe below. Other than that I heartily recommend it. Next time I would make the presentation better such as put it in nicer bowls and opt for caramel syrup as well.
The main recipe was adapted from The Encyclopedia of Classic French Pastries by Susan Whatley and the almond praline fron Rachel Khoo's recipe of Floating Island.
Oeufs à la Neige
*For the praline:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup slivered almonds
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the slivered almonds to the boiling syrup and keep stirring continuously.
- The sugar will being melting again and will take on a golden colour.
- Once it turns golden, pour out onto the prepared baking tray and quickly spread as thinly as possible (they set fast). Leave to cool completely.
*For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup whole milk
- Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric hand or stand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Increase the speed to high and add the sugar gradually while beating until all the sugar has been added.
- Beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to hold the bowl of beaten egg whites upside down without any spilling out).
- While you are beating the egg whites, bring the milk on saucepan to a gentle simmer. Lower heat futher until there are only little bubbles at the edges.
- Using 2 big dinner spoons, form the meringue into oval shapes. Carefully drop the oval meringues into the simmering milk and poach for about 1-2 minutes each side or until puffed up and set.
- Remove from the milk with a slotted spoon and place on a sheet of tea towels or paper towels. Cool and store in the fridge tightly covered until needed.
*For the creme anglaise:
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
remaining milk from poaching the meringue
- Combine the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl with a whisk. Gently pour a little at a time of the still warm poaching milk on to the mixture while constantly stirring.
- Return the egg-milk mixture to the poaching saucepan and cook at low heat while constantly stirring. There should be about a little less than 2 cups of the mixture. If not, top up with more milk up to roughly that amount.
- Cook gently (do not stop stirring) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a single cream. It should coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain the sauce and cool in the fridge covered until thoroughly chilled.
*For the caramel sauce (optional):
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
- Prepare a bowl full of tap water (preferably in a sink). The bowl should be bigger than the saucepan to be used for cooking. Set aside.
- Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to boil.
- Continue boiling until it becomes golden coloured. Lower heat and cook until it is of the shade of golden colour desired. Immediately put the bottom of the pan into the bowl full of tap water to stop the caramel from cooking further.
- Use the caramel immediately
- Put about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of creme anglaise in a small serving cup or bowl. Place two or three meringues on top and decorate with almond praline and/or caramel sauce.