Frogs! Swiss Meringue Frogs

If I'm trapped in this house when the Big One strikes, I'll be surviving off the boxes of unused matzoh meal, potato starch and Passover cake mix from years past. Yes, it's that time again. Time for stocking up on more kosher-for-Passover products than you can use (because if you wait until the last minute, the shelves will be empty [from everyone else stocking up on more than they can use{because if they wait the shelves will be empty}]). It's also time for spring cleaning and celebrating the end of the cold, dark, months. The trees are exploding into little white flowers and I'm remembering my little skirts (OK it's California so they were never forgotten). Passover is a spring holiday and one of my favorites. Even more so than Rosh Hashanah, it's filled with very symbolic food. In addition, there is the restriction of not eating chametz, leavened products, the definition of which varies and can include most grains, legumes, and corn/syrup/starch. For many cooks, myself included, this limit presents an exciting challenge. I'm not one to try to fake a cake with matzoh meal. Just like tofu cheese, it will never taste like the real thing. I'd rather avoid matzoh altogether, just like matzoh would rather me avoid the bathroom.

I might get to the tears, bitterness, and freedom on this blog eventually, but first I'd like to attempt a couple of plague inspired treats, in no particular order (I know, I know, it's all about order. Sorry). I can't make any promises because I'm so busy that attempting an omelette for dinner is a rare thing these days--so don't hold your breath for "death of the first born" fashioned in spun sugar. However, I'm taking a class right now that is sculpturally inspiring/sculpturally humbling, so I thought I'd take a stab at making a few things during a study break.

Frogs. Perhaps the funniest of the 10 plagues to me. (Are plagues funny? Frogs on your bed! Take that!) Here I made them out of Swiss meringue, which according to Martha Stewart, is an "intermediate-level meringue", up from the beginner's French. Can I have my yellow belt now? Basically, you cook the egg whites and sugar over simmering water before beating into shiny, stiff peaks. It is more stable, especially if you add a little meringue powder along with the fresh eggs. As always with meringue, use a clean metal bowl and clean mixers, since the smallest trace of fat will affect volume. Separate cold eggs and allow the whites to come to room temperature before beating. It's best if the air is dry. If you are not feeling artistically inclined, you can easily make boils instead of frogs. Just switch the food coloring to red and form lumps. I might even top them with a little white chocolate pus. :)

Meringue Frogs
* FYI: meringue powder and food coloring can sometimes contain cornstarch.
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 T meringue powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • few drops of green food coloring
Preheat the oven to 175-200 °F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk the whites, sugar, and meringue powder together in a clean metal bowl. Continue whisking with the bowl placed over gently simmering water until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and then beat with the electric mixer, starting on slow and moving up to high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form. This will take about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla and food coloring. Gently transfer some of the
meringue to a pastry bag, careful not to deflate it. Using two spoons, make a lump of meringue on the baking sheet for the body, then another smaller lump for the head. Pipe the legs and any other details you'd like. I kind of pushed things around gently until they looked as good as they could, given that meringue isn't Play-Doh. Work as quickly as you can, because the frogs will start to droop. Bake until dry, for about 1 hr to 1.5 hrs depending on the size. Turn off the oven and let cool in the oven. You can crack the door after a little while, if you like.