Today is an experimental recipe fresh from my test kitchen, bringing you a new, no refined sugar recipe, this time tackling the mighty meringue, creating no added sugar meringues that use only date syrup as a sweetening agent, resulting in light, crunchy, honeycomb like meringues that are incredibly sweet and tasty, yet low in calories and feature no refined sugar. They make addictive sweet treats served alone or could be filled with a thick sauce or scattered over ice cream for a decadent dessert.
And Now For Something Completely Different…
For many years I harboured a healthy disdain for self help books, believing them to only exist for those who are so weak of mind that they need somebody else to tell them who they are and how to act in life. It’s ironic in many ways, because in life, people often resist the things which will actually benefit them the most. People often assimilate themselves with the things that are easy to understand within the context of their existing life story, not wanting to stray too far from the well beaten path, because it might be dangerous out there in the unknown. Of course, the idea of ‘self help’ books is misleading, many of the books which fall under this banner are in fact psychology books written for the layman, so no different to Stephen Hawking writing about relativity for us, or a simplified study of nature or how bees work.
Yet despite this I still feel a stigma surrounding these books, even though they tackle the human consciousness, which aside from the deepest parts of the ocean and the furthest realms of space remains one of the least understood things in our world. Yet unlike the unreachable depths of the sea, we each live within our consciousnesses every single day. So reading any book which relates to how our minds work is arguably a better tool for existing in this world than any other, because it helps understand the tangled labyrinth of misdirection which resides within us and that we succumb to on a regular basis.
Like a Prayer.
I was struck many years ago by a quote from Madonna. She’s not my first port of call for mind changing perceptions of life, however this one cuts right through to the bone.
A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.Madonna
It’s simple, bold and true. People might wish for things, or pray that certain situations may happen in their life, but they do not boldly go out and ask for it. They might even tell someone of their dreams, but they don’t actually pursue them. Telling the world exactly what you want from it and seeking it, in a proactive way, is the first step to actually getting what you want from life.
Which is why I’m doing all sorts of things in my life at the moment, and why I’m incredibly busy. I’m developing new photography clients, I’m creating photography and other skills courses for bloggers (bloggerskillsacademy.com), I’m house hunting, I’m about to go back to university to study a MSc in Food Policy, I’m also doing work on my personal development, changing as a person, so I’m basically trying to develop every single facet of my life at once and in doing so, I hope I’ve giving the world a clear signal of what I want.
Ok, ok, I’ll stop rambling on about airy-fairy crap now and get onto the food. I wanted to make meringues with no refined sugar. Y’know those large, white fluffy cloud meringues that consist of basically just TWO ingredients, egg whites and sugar, well I thought I could play God and get rid of one and still succeed in creating a successful outcome. Well, yeah, I tried, and why not? Because after four attempts, it worked, and it created an entirely new sub category of meringue which I’m not sure what to call. Because the first thing that comes to mind when chomping down on one of these beauteous pillows of natural sweetness is honeycomb. They look and taste just like honeycomb. I was amazed. I ate a few as well, just to check, y’know, wanting to be thorough. I wanted to slather them with my salted chocolate peanut butter sauce, or drizzle them with it and top with ice cream (I’m salivating at the thought).
No Refined Sugar and Low Calorie.
What I also can’t get over is the calories. If you make 9 of these as per my recipe, they come out at 35 calories each, which for such a delightful sweet treat is incredibly low. It knocks traditional meringues into calorific cocked hat. Date syrup is one of the sweetest of the natural nectars that exist and it has a beautifully rounded flavour to it, a softness combined with an intense sweetness, which makes it perfect for creating sweet treats without resorting to piles and piles of refined sugar.
Beta Testing.I’ll hold my hands up and admit this is effectively a Beta recipe. Although I spent a couple of days trying different methods and variations, there are some peculiarities about them. I’ve made several attempts to refine the instructions down to precisely how these work, but you should be aware of a couple of nuances around how these beauteous no added sugar meringues behave.
1) They soften after cooking. I’ve not worked out the solution to this, but once removed from the oven, they will soften and go tacky on the outside. If left out for several hours they will become very soft and spongey. After 24 hours they are like sponges and will have lost all structure.
2) The twice baked method has only been tested twice, and seems to work and result in the crispiest, lightest meringue, however I cannot guarantee it’s the exact process that works. I think that what really toughens them is baking in the oven and then leaving to cool in the oven. This seems to result in the firmest meringue, but even so, will soften quickly when left out at room temperature.
3) They don’t go completely firm on the outside, even after the second cooking there is still a slight stickiness to them.
If you make these and have any experiences, good or bad, I really would love to hear about them, because these really are worth trying, and create such a glorious end product.
No Added Sugar Meringues with Date Syrup
By Gavin Wren
Makes 9 meringues
Uses an electric whisk, mixing bowl and a baking sheet
3 large eggs, whites only
100g date syrup/nectar
1/4 of a lemon
A pinch of salt
Ensure your whisk and mixing bowl are spotlessly clean and grease free. Any grease present can result in your egg whites not puffing up.
Ensure there is no egg yolk in with your egg whites, add the salt and squeeze the lemon to them, then begin to whisk at a medium speed until they fluff up into soft peaks.
Increase the speed and dribble the date syrup in slowly, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Continue whisking until the mixture forms stiff, thick, voluminous peaks.
Place a sheet of baking parchment on your baking sheet. Spoon the mixture onto your baking sheet, creating 9 large blobs, each nearly the size of a tennis ball.
Place in the oven for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and leave the baking tray in there to cool overnight/for 8 hours.
The next day, remove the baking tray, heat the oven again to gas mark 1, 275ºF, 135ºC, 115ºC fan. Place the baking in and cook for 1 hour, prior to when you need to serve the meringues. Remove from the oven and serve, ASAP!