What’s my favorite fruit?
Funny you should ask because I have two. Peaches for fresh or stand-alone fruit. Raspberries for baked goods or to pair with chocolate.
The peach story is actually a nice one. I studied abroad for a summer in college once. Madrid, Spain. I lived with a host familia who were awesome. The mom was stay-at-home and made the best Tortilla de Espana (how do I get the tilda over the n?) I will ever eat. If you’re not sure aforementioned dish is, read on! It’s a potato omelet which sounds plain but somehow it’s this buttery melt-in-your-mouth bite and you’d swear there was cheese or some other form of fatty goodness but no such thing. One of these days I’ll work up the nerve to try and make one but for now, even years later, I’d rather cherish the memories of that Tortilla. (I’ve had others in restaurants and tapas bars both stateside and in Spain — Not the same. Not by a longshot.) Anyway, she was awesome also because every day I’d come home from school at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and she’d say (in Spanish obviously), “Will you be taking a nap? When do you want me to wake you?” BLESS YOU, WOMAN! Yes! I think I will take a nap! Thank you for asking! She also did my laundry and didn’t bat an eye if I told her I was going out to dinner. Can you tell I adored her?
Moving on.. The dad was a musician and had a little music studio in the apartment with all this electric stuff, knobs, dials, and sliding things included. The two daughters were grown and one had moved out. The other was studying to become an English teacher (go figure) but she wasn’t around much either.
Back to the peach thing. Every morning I was left to my own devices on what to do about breakfast and lunch. The fridge was always stocked with cheeses, meats, and breads for lunch so I just made myself a little sandwich while I made breakfast: toast and peach jam. Every day. Toast and peach jam. I was in love! Why hadn’t I ever had peach jam before? And for a long time after returning from Spain I couldn’t stand the idea of any other kind of jam besides peach on my toast. This led to a lot of toast-less meals at the diner. I’ve since moved on but still buy peach jam every once in awhile and I’m taken back to that little apartment off the Estrecho metro stop on the yellow line in Madrid.
Unfortunately, this story isn’t really relevant since this recipe called for raspberries. (Wasn’t it a nice story though?) But really, raspberries are my favorite fruit to bake with because they always lend a bit of tartness that perfectly complements the sweetness of chocolate. I instantly knew I needed to bake these the moment I laid eyes on them. They’re actually called “White Chocolate Brownies” but the white chocolate flavor is barely, if at all, noticeable and they’re not brown in the least so I’ve renamed them appropriately. Despite the lack of a pronounced white chocolate flavor, however, these bars are delicious. Scrumptious. Finger-lickin’ good.
Dorie’s Raspberry Meringue Bars
adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan
For the brownies:
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c fresh raspberries
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325F.
Butter a 9×13-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment or foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt.
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, stirring frequently until the ingredients are just melted. Be very careful as white chocolate quickly separates when it gets too hot! Remove the bowl from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high for about 3 minutes or until pale and foamy. Add vanilla. On low, mix in the dry ingredients just until they disappear. Pour into pan and add a layer of raspberries (they’ll likely sink). Set aside to make the meringue.
In a clean mixer bowl with clean whisk attachments for a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium until foamy and just opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Whip the whites until firm but glossy peaks. Spread over top of the batter.
Bake 30-35 minutes according to Dorie but this took much longer for me to set, more like 45-50 minutes in my opinion. The meringue should be browned and crackly. Cool to room temperature in the pan.
For serving, Dorie suggests you cover a cooling rack with a piece of parchment or wax paper, dust with confectioners’ sugar and gently turn the pan out. Take care not to squish the meringue! Peel away the lining and invert onto a cutting board. She suggests 32 bars.