Wonders never quite cease at the RBMSCL. If ever there were a foodstuff that we strongly believed should not be associated with dessert, it was cauliflower. And then we discovered The Dessert Book: A Complete Manual from the Best American and Foreign Authorities with General Economical Recipes (written by a Boston Lady in 1872). So, in honor of National Dessert Month, we present:
Meringues in the Form of Cauliflowers
Fill a biscuit-forcer with Italian meringue-paste, and push this out upon bands of paper, in knobs, or large dots, superposed or mounted one upon the other in such form or fashion, that, when complete, it shall represent, as nearly as possible, the head, or white part, of a cauliflower (of course, on a very diminished scale, of the size of a pigeon’s egg, for instance): this pat of the cauliflower, when fashioned, is to be sprinkled over with rather coarse granite sugar.
The under part, or green leaves, which envelop a cauliflower, are imitated in a somewhat similar manner to the above by pushing out the paste in pointed dots upon bands of paper, in the manner and form as directed for the imitation of the heads, only somewhat flatter: these, in order the better to represent green leaves, are to be sprinkled over with green granite sugar; and when both parts have been dried in the closet, or screen, stick the head, or white part, upon the leafy or green part; thus you will form more or less truthful imitation of a cauliflower, according as in a greater or lesser degree you may have displayed your taste.
Should you want to make these for your next dinner party—imagine the aghast looks on your guests’ faces!—you’ll find the recipe for Italian Meringues after the jump.
Ingredients: 1 1/4 lb. of sugar, 4 whites of eggs, and any kind of flavoring.
Boil the sugar to the blow degree, and then set the sugar-boiler standing in a soup-plate containing cold water. Whip the whites of eggs into a stiff snowy froth; and having worked the sugar with the back part of the bowl of a tablespoon continuously up against the sides of the pan, fetching it up from the bottom at the same time, in order that the whole of the sugar may be equally worked so as to become semi-opalized, add the whipped whites, and afterwards the juice of a lemon, and a liqueur-glass of any kind of liqueur, and thoroughly, through lightly, mix all together.
You will find, that, as the paste cools, it will become sufficiently firm to enable you to lay it out in a similar manner to that described for the moulding of ordinary meringues, excepting that, as a general rule, Italian meringues should be small. They are susceptible of being made in almost an infinite variety of forms; using, in that case, a biscuit-forcer for the purpose of shaping the meringues to represent hearts, rings, crescents, diamonds, trefoil, grapes, and other fruits, &c.; This meringue-paste may be colored rose-pink by adding a few drops of cochineal, yellow with saffron, brown with chocolate. Italian meringues require to be dried only, rather than baked: due care must therefore be taken, previously to using the oven for this purpose, to ascertain that the heat is not sufficient to color a piece of white paper.
As the proportion of sugar contained in the Italian meringues is greater than in the ordinary meringue, it does not require dredging after being shaped, possessing already sufficient consistency; yet, when fruits or vegetables are intended to be imitated, different colored granite sugars are sprinkled on their surface to effect such resemblance. In all ordinary cases, when not desirable to ornament, or in any way vary the original color of the Italian meringues, as soon as their surfaces have become sufficiently dry to admit of a slight pressure of the finger without giving way, remove them from the oven, and use a broad-bladed knife having a rounded tip, with which to lift the meringues off their paper; the first half so lifted to be laid upon its back in the palm of your left hand, gently withdrawing the knife without damaging its form; and then, as you remove the fellow-half from the paper, and place it upon that already in your left hand, gently press both together, and set the perfect ring, heart, &c.;, out of hand upon a wire tray, to be further dried for a few minutes.
(Proof, we think, that any recipe can be greatly improved with a generous sprinkling of commas.)