My Friendsgiving feast was 90% comfort food. Cheesy, carby, familiar dishes that, while expertly prepared, were not far from the canonical Thanksgiving dinner menu. Except this guy. The Swan: a spicy cayenne pepper meringue with sweet carrot purée that tasted like Thanksgiving but looked like Dominique Ansel. Delicious and photogenic. Time-consuming but not difficult. My little Turkey-day avian invention.
My advice on this is to make extra swan bodies and necks, as the meringue cracks easily. Also, wait to plate these until dessert, as plating too early will result in the meringues dissolving in the wet carrot purée.
- 9 eggs (whites only)
- 3 cups of sugar (2 for meringue, 1 for carrot purée)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 1 stick butter
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat the oven to 225.
- Separate the eggs, leaving the whites in a metal mixing bowl.
- Add 2 cups of sugar to the egg whites. Whisk until sugar and egg whites are evenly combined.
- Fill half a sauce pan with water over a medium flame.
- Place the mixing bowl in the hot water. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. (You can tell it's dissolved by feeling the egg white mixture with your fingers - if you still feel a grainy texture, keep whisking over the heat.)
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the bowl from the heat. Turn off the stove.
- With an electric whisk, mix until the egg whites become white.
- When the mixture is white, add the cream of tartar and the cayenne pepper.
- When the mixture is stiff (i.e. can be turned upside down without anything spilling), line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a large serving spoon, carefully plop dollops of the meringue half an inch apart on the parchment paper. Plop an additional half dollop on top of the existing dollops to increase height.
- Using the bottom of your spoon, create a shallow cavity in the middle of each meringue dollop and flick toward one side (carefully, people). This will create the swan body / bowl for the carrot purée to sit. Flicking in one direction will make the swan's derriere look like feathers.
- Make 10 swan bodies. If you run out of room, start on a second parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Put the rest of the meringue mixture in a ziploc bag. Cut a tiny whole in the corner of the ziploc bag, and draw backwards-S shapes with the meringue; these will be the necks. Do at least 15.
- Put the cookie sheet(s) in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour (or longer if the meringues still feel tacky.)
- Once the meringues feel dry (touch gently), turn off the oven, but leave the meringues in there for a few more hours to dry out completely.
- Fill a stock pot with water and add carrots.
- Set over high heat until the carrots are tender (15-20 minutes)
- Drain the water.
- Add butter, pumpkin pie spice, and 1 cup of sugar to the carrots.
- Using a food processor or hand blender, purée carrots until smooth.
- Set aside.
- Place a scoop of carrot purée in the bowl of the swan's body.
- Insert the swan's necks into the carrot purée.
Serves 8. 1 hour active time, 4 hours total time.