Savory Chorizo Meringue Tapas

chorizo meringues
Thank you, Spain, for one of the best flavor combinations on earth: chorizo, Manchego cheese, and olives.  Any combination of the three yields an irresistible tapa (Spanish snack), and this recipe is no exception.  Turing the chorizo into a savory meringue is a nod to the textural transformations that Spanish chef Ferran Adrià pioneered, and which are now a hallmark of modernist cooking.  Plus, it’s crunchy! 

Makes: about 50 pieces
Total kitchen time: 2 hours (20 minutes working time)

Shopping list:

  • 1 dry-cured chorizo (available in the deli sections of finer grocery stores)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 lb Manchego cheese
  • 50 Spanish olives
  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and set the top rack in the middle position.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and dust with flour (adding a little cooking spray to the parchment helps the flour stick).
  2. Cut off about 4” of the chorizo and slice thinly.  Use the remaining chorizo for a snack while you’re cooking – you deserve it.  Blend the sliced chorizo in a small food processor until it is broken apart.  This should yield about 1/2 cup.
  3. Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of your stand mixer, with the whisk attachment installed (you can use a hand mixer, but mixing times may vary).  Beat the egg whites on medium-high for about 2 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks.
  4. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl.  With the mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly drizzle in the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Continue mixing until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.  Finally, mix on high speed for 45 seconds until the egg whites are stiff.
  5. Carefully fold the ground chorizo into the egg white mixture.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet until it is about 1/2” thick (this will occupy nearly the whole baking sheet).
  6. Bake at 300°F for 90 minutes, or until the top is light brown and firmly spongy to the touch.  Remove the meringue and transfer to a cooling rack.  Let cool 10 minutes. 
  7. Slice the meringue into 1 1/2” squares and top with a thin slice of Manchego and an olive.

I was hoping to find a way to make the meringue using my whip cream charger instead of the stand mixer.  I did come close by rendering the oil from the chorizo and adding it to egg whites and cream of tartar.  It foamed on its way through the charger, but without the sugar, the foam just wasn’t strong enough to hold up in the oven.  Oh well, that’s the fun of experimenting!

Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Sundae

rosemary ice cream 
If you’ve never had a savory ice cream before, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest surprise pleasures. The unexpected, tongue-tingling hint of rosemary adds a bright freshness to the ice cream, and the salt and olive oil make the natural sweet notes sing.  It’s important to choose a good olive oil: not too heavy, not too syrupy, not too bright.  I chose Villa Manodori ($24 at DeLaurentis, also available online) , which is mild and thin, but has a distinctly fresh olive taste and a spicy bite as it finishes.  Luckily, any olive oil that goes well on ice cream will also be killer for finishing hot dishes too.

Makes: 1 1/2 savory quarts
Total kitchen time: 30 mins. plus freezing time

Shopping list:

  • 1 cup heavy cream (go ahead, choose organic. it tastes better)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 six inch sprigs fresh rosemary, plus extra to garnish
  • high-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • flake sea salt or sel gris

Special equipment: ice cream maker, instant-read thermometer

  1. Combine the cream, half and half, sugars and scraped vanilla bean and rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan.  Attach a thermometer and bring the cream mixture to 160°F over medium-low heat, stirring often.
  2. Once the temperature hits 160°F, immediately transfer the mixture to the freezer to cool.  Once it is cold (but before ice crystals form) pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. To serve, drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt over a scoop of ice cream.  Top with a short sprig of rosemary (optional). 

Rosemary Fudge

rosemary fudge

When I attended the Seattle Chocolate Festival last year, my eyes were opened to a whole world of savory chocolates.  I tried basil, lavender, cayenne… even tequilla-flavored chocolate.  This rosemary fudge is surprisingly quick and simple to make, and is a wonderful twist on a bake sale favorite.

Makes: about 2 lbs.
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tea bags, a tea infuser, or cheesecloth
  • 12 Oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. gray salt, sea salt, or black salt (don’t substitute table salt)
  1. Strip the rosemary needles off of the twig and pulverize them in a mortar and pestle to release their inner oils.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the rosemary in a plastic bag and rough it up with a rolling pin.
  2. Divide the rosemary between the two tea bags.  Pour the condensed milk into a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the tea bags and submerge, being careful not to let the rosemary spill out.  Bring the condensed milk to a simmer (you’ll see wisps of steam) then remove from the heat and let the rosemary steep in the milk for 15 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, line the inside of a shallow 8”x8” baking dish with parchment or aluminum foil.  Try to get the foil as smooth as possible, so it doesn’t leave wrinkles in the finished fudge.
  4. Remove the tea bags from the saucepan, pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon to release as much flavor as possible back into the condensed milk.
  5. Add the chocolates and baking soda to a large glass or metal bowl and stir until the baking soda is evenly distributed.  Add the condensed milk and place the bowl on top of a pot of boiling water to form a double boiler.  Gently stir until the chocolate is almost fully melted.  Remove the bowl from the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate mixture is smooth.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the salt evenly across the surface of the chocolate.  Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.  To serve, remove the block of fudge from the baking dish and cut into 1” pieces.

You can also try this recipe with sage, basil, or anything else that sounds good to you.