I am a perfectionist. I am a control freak. I just set my expectations too high for myself and get upset when I fall short of them, even when other people think I've done a good job (maybe they are just too kind) I still think I can do better. I guess I just have to learn to lower those expecations or keep working on reaching perfection. And keep remembering that practice makes perfect.
This is my second attempt at the well loved Filipino dessert Brazo De Mercedes (Meringue Swiss Roll with Egg Yolk Custard filling). And it wasn't a perfect job. It fell short of perfect, though it was definately better than my first go on so many levels. I guess all I can do now is learn and try again to reach perfection. You can have a look at my appalling first go here. I decided to have another go at it and make it to take to a catch up lunch with Ryan's cousin. This recipe is my adaption of a few that are around on the internet.
Brazo De Mercedes
• 10 large eggs, seperated• Pinch of Cream of Tartar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (Nestle 395g)
• 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
• Icing sugar, to dust
I decided I wanted to make two rolls, so had 20 eggs to seperate. I did it on my bedroom floor in front of the TV. You might also want to make the custard a day before you make the meringue. It allows the custard to set and thicken which makes it easier to handle.
To make the custard, combine the egg yolks, condensed milk and vanilla bean extract in a saucepan. Cook on a medium low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, this will take approximately 20 minutes or so. You need to be patient with this. I cooked my custard over direct heat, you could also do it over a pot of simmering water if you're worried about the mixture curdling.
My custard is not curdled as such but it is quite lumpy as I keep turning the heat up and down because I got impatient. This is why it is important to constantly stir over a consistently low heat to avoid the custard scrambling or seperating.
I don't recomment that you do this, but it did work for me. I placed my lumpy custard into my blender and whizzed it to get rid of the lumps and it came out nice and smooth. I guess it would only work if your custard hadn't turned to scrambled eggs. Place into the fridge until the custard is thick and cold (preferably overnight).
To make the meringue, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pour the meringue onto a lined and greased tray and spread out with a spatula. To even out the surface, run the blade of a knife across the surface scraping away any excess meringue. Optionally, you can use a comb to smooth out the meringue and create ridges/patterns on the surface.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 140 degrees celcius for about 45 minutes, the meringue is ready when it is a nice golden brown. Leave to cool before dusting with icing sugar and then inverting the meringue sheets onto another lined tray.
Thick, sticky custard.
Recipes tell you to spread the custard along one (long) side of the meringue sheet and then rolling the meringue around the custard. I decide to experiment with two ways and also spread the entire meringue sheet with custard hoping to get nice even spiral layers of custard and meringue. It's probably easier to handle spreading the custard down the one side and then rolling the meringue around it.
I find that I have to use the baking paper to help roll the meringue as it is very fragile to handle. It also holds the rolls together nicely. Place them into the fridge to set a little before attempting to remove the paper.
Unveiling one Brazo De Mercedes. You can see that this one cracks a little in some parts along the side. Perhaps my meringue was a little too thin, or slightly over cooked.
The ends don't look too nice so I cut them off, this isn't such a good idea as the custard seeps out. It was a warm day too so that didn't help either. I also divided the rolls to give out, this meant that there were more exposed ends which resulted in custard slowly seeping out everywhere. It's probably a better idea to cut the meringue to size first and then filling them and then rolling. The two different ways of spreading the custard also doesn't really make that much of a different visually so I'd just go for the easier method next time.
Sprinkle with extra icing sugar before serving. It may not be perfect, but it's definately a much better attempt compared to my first go. During our critiquing conversation, Ryan suggested perhaps I add some gelatine to the custard to make it more stable. Some recipes include mixing ground cashew nuts to the custard which perhaps gives it a thicker sturdier consistency I suppose? Or else I just shouldn't cut the end off until just before serving to keep the custard from seeping out.
This dessert is not for the faint hearted. It is super sweet, but is super addictive too. Soft fluffy meringue that just melts in your mouth, paired with a sweet sticky custard that just compliments it perfectly. Serve with a cup of your favourite tea and it's not too bad. It is definately a treat to be had for special occasions only ;) I did attempt to make a blueberry coulis to serve with the dessert to help cut through the richness but ended up stuffing it up (too sweet) so left it out. This is not the last time I will be making this, perhaps third time lucky.