Trust me, you will be turning baking trays around for hours.
As I have mentioned previously, I have been lucky enough to visit Ansel’s London shops a few times (that’s totally a brag), but I have never properly taken notice of the ‘Mini-Me’s’. Don’t get me wrong, they’re everywhere (Ansel may as well just wallpaper his bakeries with them at this point ;)). They’re featured on multiple pastries, as well as being sold separately in bags, gift sets and even mini boxes of cereal. HECK, after typing this I looked at his London menu and there’s literally a ‘Mini-Me Cake’ being sold, what did I say ;).
Mini-me’s are practically tiny meringue kisses, that you can flavour/colour however you like. Ansel actually uses a Swiss-meringue to make them (egg whites/sugar are whisked over bain marie initially), compared to a more common French-meringue (egg whites/sugar are whipped with no addition of heat). The Swiss-meringue is slightly more technical, compared to just whacking it all into your Kitchenaid and hoping for the best. ;) This involves bringing the mixture to a temperature of 45 Degrees Celsius over bain marie, before whisking to achieve stiff peaks. This could then be used to make buttercream, or in this case piped and dehydrated in the oven. Swiss-meringue is typically more stable.
I’m quite familiar with meringue, frequently making French and Italian versions and having made Swiss once or twice. Therefore, I felt very optimistic about this task and was pretty chill from the get-go. Plus, I had some leftover egg whites in the fridge (I had made a white chocolate ice cream earlier in the week, which by the way was DELICOUS), so was hyped that they weren’t going to waste.
Ansel (being the precise pastry wizard that he is) gives his egg white measurement in grams, which improves the recipe so much. The majority of meringue recipes (especially older ones) will just use a number of egg whites, but they can vary SO much, meaning that often the outcome will vary equally. Using weight measurements also allows you to work with ratios (typically, I would make meringue kisses using a 2:1 ratio of sugar to egg white) meaning that you don’t even have to find a recipe after you’ve remembered the ratio! (and sometimes there is nothing more infuriating than trying to find an exact recipe you had used before for hours and hours, before having to assume it was deleted from whatever website you were using).
I began as the recipe said; I weighed my egg white and icing sugar and hand-whisked over a bain marie, until my temperature probe reached 45 Degrees Celsius. I did this in my Kitchenaid bowl, so that I could easily move the bowl over to Arthur when need be (my Kitchenaid is called Arthur, he’s pistachio green and my best friend). Whisking on high, the meringue reached stiff peaks after just a few minutes. I chose not to flavour or colour my meringues with anything (what tastes better than the flavour of pure sugar? ;)).
The recipe is pretty self-explanatory and asks you to pipe small kisses, until you use all of the mix (the yield is 200, I made about 220 so was probably piping slightly smaller than advised). I baked them in the oven, turning the trays round every 20 mins until cooked (the recipe states 80 mins, however mine were probably closer to 100). There you have it, 220 delightful mounds of meringue.
I wish I had more to say about the Mini-Me’s but really they speak for themselves. They’re almost the sweet equivalent of a cheese puff, what’s not to love?
Ansel recommends enjoying the Mini-Me’s in a cup of his hot chocolate, so that’s exactly what I did!
Hot chocolate is actually the VERY FIRST recipe featured in the book (I know, I know I lied), but I really didn’t feel it would warrant its own blog post (do you forgive me?). The process involves pouring hot milk over chocolate and cocoa paste, even I can’t drag that out into a whole blog post (and I do A LOT of babbling). Therefore, I’ve decided to include it here.
Firstly, let me tell you that THE HOT CHCOLATE IS THE BOMB. I have quite a weird relationship with hot chocolate (I DESPISE hot liquids, yes that includes tea and coffee), which means I’m quite particular with my hot chocolates. For starters, if you try and serve me any of that powdered ‘just add water’ stuff, I will not be enjoying it. If I’m gonna have a hot chocolate I want it to be rich, decadent and indulgent. That’s exactly what this recipe makes. And trust me, the addition of Mini-Me’s takes it to the NEXT LEVEL.
Overall, Ansel really can’t do any wrong. I honestly don’t think I am gonna dislike a single thing in this book (I’ve flicked through the recipes and trust me they’re pretty damn mouth-watering).
NEXT UP IS THE CARAMEL POPCORN CHOUQUETTES (they look pretty hot, I’m not gonna lie)
Once again, thanks for reading this! Knowing that people are going out of their way to read whatever I have to say for whatever reason is the best feeling in the world, and I’m crazy grateful (trust me). PLEASEEE keep reading, the blog posts are only going to keep getting better, more interesting and more dramatic (by dramatic I mean tears that will be shed while trying to make the advanced recipes ;)). Also, if you haven’t read the previous posts, TREAT YOURSELF ;) there’s not that many.
What did you think? I ramble on and on, so it would be great to hear some of your feedback. I’m always trying to improve, whether its as a writer or a baker and I can’t do that by myself. If you have any questions, PLEASE ASK! Who am I? Why am I so in love with Dominique Ansel? What is the date of our wedding? There’s no harm in commenting below.
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