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Eggs a la Neige Otherwise Known as Eggs In Snow

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 - 8 Servings

Ingredients

For the Crème Anglaise

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

How to Make Crème Anglaise

  • Slowly pour about a third of the milk into the egg/sugar mixture, constantly whisking.
  • Then slowly pour the egg mixture back into the primary saucepan containing the remaining milk, again constantly whisking. This is called tempering the eggs. It allows them to be slowly heated to avoid coagulation.
  • With the heat on low and your whisk in constant motion, cook the crème until it coats the back of a spoon, or until you can run a finger through it and create a clear path; about 5-8 minutes. If you’re using a thermometer do not go over 175°F. Even the low 170’s is flirting with disaster.
  • Strain the crème to remove any solidified bits of egg.
  • Pour it into a bowl with plastic wrap touching the surface, (to prevent a film from forming), and chill it.

How to Make Meringue

  • As stated, meringue is a whipped mixture of egg whites and sugar but it’s a little more complicated than that. Beating egg whites imbibes them with air molecules, thus inflating them and producing a foam. But the air can escape and deflate the meringue. Ergo, the goal is not only producing a foam, but a stable one. Here’s a point by point guide:
  • In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand-held whisk, make the meringue as described next.
  • Room temperature eggs will whip faster and produce greater volume than cold ones.
  • Ensure that there is not a trace of egg yolk in the whites when you separate the eggs. The slightest bit of fat can interfere with the whipping of the whites.
  • Copper bowls produce greater volume than any other material because of the chemical reactions between the copper and the egg whites.
  • Adding a pinch of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) enhances the stability. Use a 16th of a teaspoon per white. If not using a copper bowl, definitely use cream of tartar. Get the whites started and then promptly add the cream of tartar.
  • Use superfine sugar which incorporates better. You must wait for the whites to reach the “soft peak stage” which is a limp foam, before adding the sugar. Moreover it must be added a tablespoon at a time. Adding it too soon or too quickly compromises the final volume.
  • A pinch of salt is sometimes added for flavor. Again, wait for the soft peak stage as salt actually decreases the foam’s stability.
  • Continue beating the whites once all the sugar and salt is added but do not over beat them or they can curdle. Scoop out some of the meringue with the whisk and hold it up. If the peaks hold their shape, you’re done. This is the stiff peak stage.
  • Mix the vanilla extract in toward the end.

Make the Eggs a la Neige

  • Heat up a large skillet of water to a gentle simmer. 
  • Place dollops of the meringue in the water.  Or for a more artistic presentation make quenelles of the meringue. 
    A quenelle is an oval shaped dollop of food.  To make them you’ll need two large tablespoons.  Scoop up one generous spoonful of the meringue and work it back and forth between the spoons until a uniform oval shape is produced.  Then place it in the water.
  • Poach the egg whites for two minutes, gently flip, and poach the other side for two minutes. 
  • Remove with a slotted spoon to paper toweling to dry.  Allow them to cool to room temperature, (or place them in the fridge to completely chill). 
  • Pour the custard into serving bowls and add portions of the poached meringue on top. 

Notes

On a final note, eggs a la neige can be augmented in many different ways.  All kinds of flavorings and garnishes can be added including cloves, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, caramel, liqueurs and chocolate. 
Various nuts can be sprinkled over it. 
There are even tropical versions that employ ginger, coconut and tropical fruit.