Welcome to the Alpha Bakers bake-a-long, an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared, but I will post my commentary followed by a full photo tutorial.
This week's selection - Meringue Birch Twigs. Long, crispy, incredibly delicate meringue cookies that are drizzled with horizontal streaks of dark chocolate.
Optional ingredients and/or equipment suggested - pastry brush.
How do they taste - Delicately sweet and light as air. They melt in your mouth. The addition of French raspberry essence is very subtle and I think the cookies would have been equally tasty without it.
How do they look - Stunning. When have you seen a more elegant cookie? I have been waiting for this recipe to come up in the rotation since I first spotted the photo in the book.
Level of difficulty - For me, they were easy, but I imagine they could be challenging for someone who isn't comfortable using a piping bag. But remember, chocolate covers a multitude of sins.
Were the directions clear - For the most part. I baked these on both parchment and silpat liners. The twigs baked on parchment were much easier to release without breakage because the offset spatula slid easily between the twigs and parchment paper, but it did not slide easily between the twigs and silpat (it stuck and jumped a lot - breaking the twigs along the way). Also, the directions say to drizzle the twigs before loosening from the parchment or silpat, but that would mean dragging the offset spatula through the chocolate drizzle overflow, which would make a huge mess so I placed my twigs on a rack before drizzling.
What would I do differently next time - I would definitely not bake these on silpats - the metal offset simply doesn't glide smoothly enough to release the twigs without causing mass casualties. I'd also probably eliminate the raspberry flavoring - I don't think it's needed. I might like to try another flavor like almond or strawberry, which both pair nicely with chocolate.
Note - Even though I'm an experienced baker, I still managed to break about 40% of these twigs (I tell you, they break if you look at them the wrong way). If I make them again, I'll plan to make an extra batch. For the record, one batch made about 40 twigs that were piped horizontally on the sheet pan (that's before breakage).
Okay, here's my photo tutorial.