Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Meringue Kisses and Lemon Sherbet Are an Unbeatable Dessert Combo

05/03/2016 at 03:46 PM ET

Alex Guarnaschelli Meringue
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli; Inset: Getty

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

This is such a throwback to my childhood. I have a distinct memory of my mom scooping sherbet onto a few crunchy meringues. My dad absolutely loves anything with a meringue on it, from a pie to a Pavlova, and so we had it often.

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Sherbet is only different from a sorbet in that milk or cream, egg white or gelatin has to be part of the recipe. What does this mean taste-wise? It means there will be added texture and even a slight creamy note. It can be a cool way to have the lightness of a fruit sorbet with just a touch of richness from dairy.

I love lemon (or any citrus) sherbet in particular because the tartness and freshness of the citrus against a little cream is the best of both worlds. I also love the combination of these little meringue kisses for a super light crunch component to go with the sherbet.

I like to make all of this in advance and then simply toss the meringues into the bottom of a few bowls and top with a scoop of the sherbet. You can also buy some sorbet or sherbet if time is an issue. It just makes you channel your inner pastry chef (yes, we all have one deep inside of us) to make these meringues!

Alex Guarnaschelli Meringue
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Meringue Kisses

1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Nonstick spray
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 275°. Make the meringue mixture: In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar with the cornstarch. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, blend the egg whites and the cream of tartar at high speed until the egg whites hold their shape and the whisk leaves a trace in the whites, 3-4 minutes. Put the mixer on medium speed and start adding the sugar mix, tablespoon by tablespoon, and blend at high speed, 5-8 minutes, until the egg whites form stiff peaks. The meringue should be firm and glossy.

2. Bake the meringue: Transfer the meringue mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip. Pipe small rounds of the meringue mix onto a baking sheet fitted with parchment (and sprayed with nonstick spray for good measure). Leave a little room between each meringue. Place the tray on the upper rack in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for about 45 minutes. It should be crusty when touched ever so gently. If it isn’t, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.

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And if you feel like making your own sherbet:

Lemon Sherbet

Juice of 2 large lemons and a few grates of zest from one of the lemons
1½ cup granulated sugar
1½ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream

1. Make the sherbet mix: In a small pot, combine the lemon juice, zest and sugar with ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisk until the sugar dissolves and transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the milk. In a separate bowl, (or in an electric mixer) whip the cream until decently firm (medium peaks). Gently fold the cream into the lemon mixture until blended and transfer to an ice cream maker and freezer according to manufacturer instructions.

2. Assemble and devour: Put a handful of the meringues at the bottom of a serving bowl and scoop the sherbet on top. Top with a few more meringues.

A tip about lemon zest:
I use a microplane grater but a classic box grater is great too. The trick to great lemon zest is not to move the lemon back and forth on the grater. Also, don’t grate deeply in one spot. Grate in one direction lightly over the surface so you get the floral skin layer and oil and leave the bitter white pith layer behind. The same is true for limes that have that soapy note. Grate lightly and gently—skim that outer layer!

FILED UNDER: Dessert , Food , Recipes , Stars & Chefs

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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