If you would have asked me two years ago how many cookbooks I had in my house I could easily count them on one hand… maybe two. Don’t get me wrong, I loooove cookbooks (I could easily spend an afternoon thumbing through the glossy pages and ever so carefully bookmarking the recipes I must make), but it wasn’t until recently that I started to aquire them. These days you can find my bookshelves adorned with cookbooks of every nature. From gluten free favourties to even a few fad diet cookbooks, they are all there (right next to my Stephen King and Doon Koontz book collection!).
When I received a copy of Charmian Christie’s brand new cookbook “The Messy Baker” I knew my bookshelf was the perfect home. I’ve been a fan of Charmian’s blog for a long time. Her approach to baking and cooking is real. So in other words, yes your kitchen will be mess of muffin tins and clouds of flour. Yes you will have moments where you forget to start the oven timer and burn your tart to a crisp (but hey, there’s an app for that!). And yes, you may have to run your dishwasher twice in one afternoon just to clean all the dirty dishes… but that’s what baking and cooking is all about.
A quick thumb through “The Messy Baker” will quickly reveal just how real this cookbook is. The beautifully styled photos are a true representation of the recipe – nothing is so immaculate that you feel intimated to even start preparing it. The quarky titles of each section (“Smudgy,” “Dippable” & “Drippy” are a few of my favourites) are cute and fun. One feature I particularly like about this cookbook is the notes on the “commitment level.” There are recipes for lazy Sunday afternoon baking (like the one below), ready in an hour or less, and done in stages… just in case you are thinking about tackling the Double-Stuff Uber-Oreo right before your dinner party… you might think twice!
While I found it difficult to pick just one recipe for this post (there are just so many delicious sounding recipes, including the Smoky Mushroom Crepes), I opted for one that I thought was the most unique. Combining macaroons and meringues sounded like it was right up my alley…
Cherry and Lemon Macaroon Meringues
Meringues and macaroons are usually gluten free. Paired together, they make an irresistible dessert even my wheat-eating friends can’t pass up. This recipe is inspired by a date-filled macaroon from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan. In this version, tart dried cherries and slightly bitter walnuts bring the sugar and coconut into balance, while lemon peel rounds out the flavor. As with Morgan’s version, you’ll need a napkin. They leave a trail of meringue flakes wherever you eat them.
Makes about 3 dozen
Commitment Level: Lazy Sunday Afternoon
1 cup sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 egg whites, at room temperature
11⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Peel of 1 lemon, finely grated
3⁄4 teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup chopped dried unsweetened cherries
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Preheat the oven to 350°F with the baking rack in the center.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. (You can use a hand mixer, but it will take longer.) Reduce the speed to medium and add the sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the sugar has been fully incorporated, increase the speed to high. Add the vanilla, lemon peel, and vinegar and continue beating until the egg whites form still, glossy peaks.
4. Reduce the speed to medium and add the boiling water. Don’t panic. The egg whites are supposed to swell up. Once the egg whites settle down again, beat for 2 minutes on high. Set the meringue aside.
5. In a large bowl, combine the dried cherries, walnuts, and coconut. Toss to ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed. You want to avoid overstirring the meringue, so do your mixing now.
6. Sprinkle the fruit-and-nut mixture over the surface of the meringue. Using a scraper, gently fold it into the meringue. Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop mounds of macaroons 1″ apart on the baking sheets. Alternatively, you can do this with a spoon and slide the batter o! with your finger. They will have more of a peak but will taste just as good.
7. Bake 1 sheet at a time on the middle rack for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 225°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cookies are light gold. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. When they are stable enough to be removed without damage, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week—if they last that long.
Variations: This cookie has endless options.
- Swap dried cranberries or Craisins for the dried cherries and orange peel instead of lemon.
- Try lime peel instead of lemon and dried pineapple instead of cherries for a piña colada meringue.
A few bloggers and myself were so excited about the release of Charmian’s new cookbook that we organized a little Messy Baker Blog Hop! So make sure you hop-along and check out all the blogs!
Carole // Orange Walnut Brownies
Jenny // Whiskey Kissed Cream Pie
Robyn // Blueberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins
Jan // Chili Cheese Twists
Rhonda // Ginger and Vanilla Scones
Heather // Piglet Muffins with Caramelized Bacon
Mardi // Profiteroles
Lou // Double Stuffed Uber Oreos
Libby // Basil and Aged Cheddar Scones and Deep Dark Cherry and Chipotle Brownies
Christina // Savoury Pecan Cheddar Bites
Meg // Rhubarb Raspberry Galette with Frangipane
Jennifer // Tomato Arugula Stuffed Foccacia
Stephanie // Smoked Paprika Corn Fritters
Valerie // Welsh Griddle Cakes
Liliana // Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt Sticky Buns
Disclaimer: While HarperCollins provided me with a copy of “The Messy Baker” I was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are my own.
Recipe from The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada. All rights reserved.