I love coffee. In fact, I'm obsessed with the stuff. But unfortunately, I'm allergic to it too.
I used to drink a lot of coffee up until a few years ago when I developed a sensitivity to it, due to my over-consumption. Now, the minute any caffeine (from coffee beans) enters my system, I get muscle cramps and severe palpitations. Not pretty. I'm allowed to have decaf, but it just doesn't taste the same, and I still get the same symptoms, even though they're much milder.
I remember when I was growing up, my mother would always have a pot of coffee on, first thing in the morning before I woke up, and it was (and still is) probably the nicest smell to wake up to at the breakfast table. I've read so many articles since then on studies about how the smell of coffee alone causes a chemical reaction in the brain that increases alertness and concentration, which I would have to agree with. Anyone else feel the same?
As you may know by now, I'm also obsessed with all things meringue, so I thought I'd try making some meringue cupcakes. I had some leftover coffee (decaf of course) that I needed to use up, and I had just bought these gorgeous Forelle pears. So I poached the pears with some star anise, cinnamon and cloves, shucked a few meringue cupcakes like oysters, and filled them with some cubed poached pears.
And finally, for some *awesome* news: a few months ago, I was contacted by a big publisher here in London that stumbled upon my blog, loved what they saw, and - wait for it - offered me a book deal!
It's a huge and exciting project consisting of 70 recipes and I just signed the contracts last week. I can't say much more about it just yet, but I'm testing and writing recipes until January and hopefully the book should be published and out by next Autumn. I still can't believe it! It feels like a dream. I have to pinch myself every time I think about it.
I've already completed 2 recipes, so that means I have only, hmmm let's see, 68 to go - *gulp*. I'd best get cracking.
Coffee Meringue Cupcakes
5 egg whites
190g icing sugar
190g caster sugar
6 teaspoons instant coffee
Whip the egg whites until stiff. Whisk in the caster sugar and instant coffee. Fold in the icing sugar. Spoon or pipe into cupcake moulds. Bake in a preheated oven between 90-100˚C for about 2 hours. The trick with meringue is not so much to 'bake' them, but more to dry them out.
Spiced Poached Pears
4 Forelle pears, whole, peeled
3 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise
1 tablespoon cloves
Place all ingredients in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes on a low heat or until soft when poked with a toothpick. Serve hot or cold. If using with meringue cupcakes, chop into chunky cubes, lift the cupcake 'lids' by running a knife along the top dome of the cupcakes, lift off, scrape out the insides, and fill with poached pears.