Still Dreaming...

You would think the glow would have worn off by now. It has been more than 6 months, for Pete’s sake!

But here I am in Tucson, still dreaming of Sicily.

Markipedia always writes up our travels after we return - a travelogue in several short (for him) installments.

Right now, he is on chapter 23 of his Sicilian musings, and doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

To say that Sicily had a profound effect on us is an understatement, and I find it difficult to put the “why” into words.

So I put it into food. You knew that was coming!

I was looking for a light dessert to follow a meal comprised entirely of traditional Sicilian recipes. Meringues fit the “light” bill. They create a soft billowy pillow on which I can rest my Sicilian dreams.

~ David

Sicilian Meringues
This are not a traditional Sicilian recipe, so what makes me call them Sicilian? The Fiori di Sicilia extract (you can find it at Sur la Table, and King Arthur). While not Italian in origin, it evokes springtime in the Sicilian countryside when myriad citrus trees are in full bloom. Also, the chocolate I used was from Modica, a small city in southeastern Sicily known for its chocolate. Its texture is grainy, similar to the Mexican chocolate we use to make hot chocolate.

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia extract *
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 3-ounce chocolate bar, about 72% cacao 

     * if you don't have or cannot find Fiori di Sicilia, you can use
       1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Coarsely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, Fiori di Sicilia, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Very gradually, add the sugar - this should take almost 3 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat for an additional 5 minutes at high speed. The egg whites should be glossy and stiff but not dry. Add the chopped chocolate and turn on the mixer for a couple of seconds to distribute it evenly in the meringue.

Spoon the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch meringues onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each. If necessary, prepare a second baking sheet for additional meringues. (If you don’t have a pastry bag, just spoon dollops of the batter onto the prepared sheets – done this way they may not be as pretty, but they will still taste fantastic!)

Bake for 50 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven for an additional hour. Remove and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 36 meringues.

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