“Eggs in snow” or “oeufs a la neige” or “ovos nevados“… conveys the same delight in any language: a classy, delicious, impressive dessert, that’s surprisingly simple to make. Besides that, you can prepare its components in advance, which is the golden rule for a relaxed host.
for the creme anglaise
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
1 + 1/2 cup boiling milk
for the meringue
4 egg whites
6 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
for the caramel glaze
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Thinly sliced almonds (optional)
Prepare the creme anglaise: beat the sugar and yolks with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until the color turns pale yellow and the texture becomes somewhat thick (ribbon stage). Beat in the cornstarch, if you decide to use it, and while still beating, slowly add the hot milk without scorching the egg yolks.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and warm over low heat, while constantly stirring. Don’t let it boil, but bring the temperature to 170F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pass it through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg yolk that might ruin the texture of the creme anglaise. Put it in the fridge until ready to assemble the dessert.
Prepare the meringue: Starting with egg whites at room temperature, beat them with the vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating at very high speed, until the peaks are all glossy and thick.
Heat water in a large skillet to 180F (at this point, the water will form bubbles on the edges). Using two tablespoons or an ice cream scoop, spoon mounds of meringue and gently dislodge them into the water. You can cook several at the same time, making sure that the water never boils. If it does the meringues will disintegrate. Cook them for 3-4 minutes per side, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with a soft cloth to drain any excess water. Reserve in the fridge.
When ready to assemble the dessert, add about 1/4 cup of creme anglaise to the serving dish and add 3 cooked meringues to the dish. Sprinkle on some almonds and glaze everything with streams of caramel, made as follows:
Add the sugar to a small saucepan, drizzle the water on top. Set the mixture over medium-low heat, and gently swirl the pan until the sugar dissolves. Then, increase the heat to high, cover the pan, and boil the caramel for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and continue boiling until the sugar turns amber. Place the bottom of the pan in cold water to rapidly cool it, and working quickly, dip a fork in the caramel and allow it to stream through the tines of the fork onto the cooked meringue and almonds.
Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
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