09 October 2021

Weekend Cooking: Nailed It! A Family Cookbook by the creators of the Netflix show with Heather MacLean

Review of the Nailed It! cookbookToday I'm launching my first Abrams Dinner Party cookbook of the season, and it's a fun one. Remember back in 2018 when I reviewed the Netflix series Nailed It!? I became a fan starting right from season 1, episode 1. Little did I know then that the creators of the show, along with Heather MacLean, would write a cookbook based on the series.

For those of you who don't know, Nailed It! is a baking contest show which challenges contestants to recreate beautifully decorated cakes and fun and fanciful desserts. These everyday, nonprofessional bakers do their best to work with fondant, modeling chocolate, food dyes, buttercreams, and rice cereal bars to produce both tasty and eye-appealing showcase treats. The results are often hilarious, and the contestants all seem to have a good sense of humor.

The cookbook Nailed It!, which I received as part of the Abrams Dinner Party program, contains more than thirty recipes, from elegant wedding cakes to super-fun cupcakes, most of which were used on the series. Each recipe includes episode notes, decorating and baking tips, and photographs. That would make this a fan-favorite cookbook all in and of itself.

Review of the Nailed It! CookbookBut Nailed It! A Family Cookbook goes a few steps farther. You'll find detailed information on all the different decorating ingredients with tips on how to work with them, where to buy them, and how to color them. You can read interviews with the show's head judge (Torres), some of the guest judges, and our favorite associate director "Wessssssss!!!"--who always seems game for whatever antic is needed.

My favorite parts of the book are the tips: what to do if you can't find an ingredient or don't have the right equipment, how to save fondant that got too sticky, and how to make fluffy buttercream, for example. There are also shortcut suggestions (like buying the doughnuts instead of making them for the polar bear cuties).

If you and your friends and family are feeling adventurous, be sure to look at the end of the Nailed It! cookbook, where you'll find advice for creating your own decorating party. You can make it a challenge or a collaborative event, and the authors even provide tips for virtual parties. If you're going for a contest, don't miss the competition rules, suggestions for awards, and ideas for amping up the fun. Scan the chart of recipes to pick the right one for your party guests (including kids).

Review of the Nailed It! cookbookOne of the Abrams Dinner Party members recreated the Late-Night Pancake Art, and another made the hot chocolate (recipe to follow).

I'm recommending the Nailed It! cookbook for fans of the show as well as anyone who wants to significantly up their decorating game--or just wants to have some fun with their family on a weekend afternoon. If you're not feeling up to working with fondant, check this one out from the library so you can read the interviews and learn more about the Netflix series.

What follows is Jacques Torres's hot chocolate recipe. I've had his Frozen Hot Chocolate in New York but haven't yet tried his hot version. I'm definitely making this over the winter holidays; it'd be perfect for a night by the fire listening to holiday music.

Jacques's Legendary Hot Chocolate
Makes 4 cups
Review of the Nailed It! cookbookFrom season 1 (Holiday)

  • 3 cups (720 ml) whole milk
  • 6 ounces (170 g) Jacques Torres 60% dark chocolate discs (or your favorite brand)
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Whipped cream or marshmallows for topping
In a medium pot over medium-high, bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the chocolate, whisking vigorously until it is completely melted.

Add the milk powder and cornstarch. Continue to whisk until everything is dissolved and the mixture is smooth and thick.

Divide the hot chocolate among four mugs. Top with a large dollop of whipped cream or marshmallows.

Note: Recipe and photos are shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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25 September 2021

Weekend Cooking: A Trio of Books for Cooks

Three September Food BooksI’m beyond thrilled and honored to tell you I’ve been accepted once again to be part of the Abrams Dinner Party for this coming publishing year. Many of the participants have already received the first three fall cookbooks, and I can’t wait to see my own copies and to share my thoughts and a recipe or two with you. At the moment, however, I’m in Maine and my cookbooks are in Pennsylvania. We’ll all just have to wait a little bit until my first Dinner Party post.

Today’s post is about three books I mean to read while on my first vacation since fall 2019. So far, I've done more exploring and walking than reading. Perhaps I should have left these food books at home for our house-sitter to enjoy. The good news is that I’ve dipped in to each one enough to suggest you add them to your reading list. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies.

Three September Food BooksFirst is a book I never intended to read all in one go. In fact, Dorothy Kalins’s The Kitchen Whisperers (William Morrow) is already slated to live on my bedside table, so I can read a few pages every day. Kalins is the founding editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, and this book is a collection of her thoughts and recollections about the foods, places, and people she’s encountered in all kinds of kitchens. She, of course, had the opportunity to learn about cooking from famous chefs, but she gained much of her kitchen wisdom the same way we all have: via family, friends, and neighbors. As Kalins writes in the introduction,

This is not a cookbook, rather, it is a book about cooking, and what—and who—we think about as we cook. I believe that the recipes we remember best, and the moves we make, seemingly automatically, are those that tell familiar stories.
Read this not only to discover a new culinary method or two but also to spark your own memories of those you’ve shared a kitchen with.

Three September Food BooksThe next book is more of kitchen companion than a straight-out cookbook, though it does contain traditional recipes. Cal Peternell’s Burnt Toast and Other Disasters (William Morrow) is subtitled “A Book of Heroic Hacks, Fabulous Fixes, and Secret Sauces,” which fairly accurately describes what you’ll find inside the covers. Have you ever overcooked the broccoli by mistake? Don’t throw it out, Peternell tells you several ways to make good use those soft veggies and other dishes that didn’t turn out quite how you had hoped. You’ll also find some creative ways to use your pantry items and to repurpose leftovers as well as a few good sauces and a half dozen cocktails. You might want to see if your local bookstore or library has a copy of this.

Three September Food BooksFinally, I have a copy of Shanna Farrell’s A Good Drink (Island Press). Farrell, who worked as a bartender in San Francisco, wondered why the farm-to-table, organic, and artisan movements weren't more focused on spirits. Since distilled alcohol is made from crops, shouldn’t we be as concerned about what we put in our glasses as we are about what we put on our plates? To learn more, she sought out growers and distillers who were involved in the sustainable spirits movement. Each chapter covers a different type of alcohol (rum, whiskey, gin, etc.), and the book ends with a focus on bartenders and others in the industry and a look to the future. Interesting reading.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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11 September 2021

Weekend Cooking: 4 New Books for Food Lovers and Cooks

As many of you know, September is a big month for new book releases. That means I was blessed with a number of new cookbooks and food-related books to read and review. Here are four that crossed my desk. I haven't cooked out of any of them yet, but I wanted to put these titles on your radar. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies; my thoughts are entirely my own. All books come out this month.

Thoughts on Bourdain by Laurie WooleverBourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever (Ecco): Woolever met Bourdain in about 2002 and eventually became his personal assistant, working closely with him for the last years of his life. After Bourdain's death, she wanted to preserve his memory, so she interviewed almost 100 people who knew him personally: family members, childhood friends, adult friends, and work colleagues of various sorts (from restaurants, publishing, and television). The book is arranged in rough chronological order and consists of short recollections from these individuals. Together their stories paint a fuller picture of who Anthony Bourdain was as a person. I've read only the first few chapters, but I find it fascinating.

Thoughts on Amber & Rye by Zuza ZakAmber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania by Zuza Zak (Interlink Books): The author of this cookbook was born in Poland but has lived in the UK since she was eight years old. Wanting to know more about her heritage, Zak traveled with her partner and young daughter to discover the culinary treasures of the Baltic region. The cookbook is divided by meal, as expected, but also includes a chapter on fermented and preserved foods. You’ll find beautiful photographs throughout and several features that serve as a travelogue. Each recipe is introduced with a personal story or a note about its history. Many of the recipes call for fish or meats, but vegetarians and vegans will find a number of suitable and well-marked recipes. Zak notes that she is able to find the ingredients in large supermarkets and Polish markets near her UK home, but many of us will have trouble finding all of them. To be honest, I was more interested in reading this book than I was inspired to cook from it. Note, however, that I did mark a poppy seed fudge recipe and a couple of the cocktails. I learned a lot about the region and its food and history. Zak also has a website.

Thoughts on Life Is What You Bake It by Vallery LomasLife Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top by Vallery Lomas (Clarkson Potter). Have you hear of Lomas? Hers is an interesting story. As the first line of the book says, she left her “job as an attorney to become a baker.” It paid off, since Lomas not only created a successful food blog but won the fourth season of The Great American Baking Show. The cookbook starts out with Lomas’s story, including details about her experience on The Great American Baking Show. From there, we get into the recipes for delicious sweet bakes of all kinds--breakfast treats, pies, cakes, French specialties, and bread and biscuits. Things I love: The photographs of the finished dishes, the many tips and tricks and hints for becoming a better baker, how clear and easy the instructions are, and the personal stories throughout. What I didn’t like: Um . . . no cons here! This is a book I’ll bake from often. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on Flavors of the Sun by Christine Sahadi WhelanFlavors of the Sun by Christine Sahadi Whelan (Chronicle): I was attracted to this cookbook because of the subtitle: “The Sahadi’s Guide to Understanding, Buying, and Using Middle Eastern Ingredients.” First, if you don’t know, Sahadi’s is a Brooklyn food emporium, which has been in business over 100 years. You can find all kinds of specialty food items in the store and in the catalog. One of the purposes of this cookbook is to provide recipes and tips for using the spices and ingredients you may have bought to make a single dish. Whelan wants to help you find ways to incorporate these ingredients into “your everyday repertoire.” Each chapter beings with a description of a handful of ingredients that share a common feature (bright, spiced, sweet, etc.) and then provides recipes for using them. Some of the recipes are distinctly Middle Eastern (Beef and Lentil Bowl with Tahini Dressing) and others are all-American (Harissa Mac & Cheese), and all look fantastic. Besides recipes for using ingredients like pomegranate molasses, za’atar, and berbere, you’ll find charts titled “Ten More Ways to Use [ingredient],” which give you quick tips and ideas, like using ras el hanout as a dry rub for lamb. The recipes themselves look incredibly appealing, and I have a ton marked to try. I also need to explore the menus provided at the end of the cookbook, which offer suggestions for holidays, picnics, tea, and game days. Highly recommended. And if you don’t have one of the ingredients, you can always order it from Sahadi’s!

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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09 September 2021

What I Read in August 2021

It's been a hot minute since I last wrote about what I've been reading and what's on my reading radar. Today, I'm sharing what I read in August.

I struggled a bit last month and had trouble becoming totally invested in the books I chose. The books are presented here in the order in which I read them; I've also posted these thoughts on Goodreads. Here's hoping September treats me better!

Thanks to the publishers and/or Libro.fm for review copies (digital, print, and/or audio).

August Book Reviews from Beth Fish Reads

The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican (Grand Central Publishing): Hourican focused on the Guinness sisters as a way to examine the post-World War I years in England and the changing rules and social life of the privileged in both Ireland and England. Because this is historical fiction based on real people, other famous individuals of the era make appearances (such as the Mitford sisters). The time span is from 1918 to 1930 and is told through the eyes of a fictional character, a poorish cousin who comes to live with the sisters and be their companion. The author examines the elaborate rules of courting and having a season, the education of girls, women's changing opportunities, marriage, sisters, politics, labor, and the effects of the stock market crash. Worth the read. The audiobook is read by Roisin Rankin, who uses light, believable accents and captures the emotions and moods of the fictional cousin and the sisters.

Noyln by Michael J. Sullivan (Grim Oak Press): I just can't get enough of Sullivan and the universe he has created. I love the characters, the way the different series are linked, the world building, the action, the heartbreak, and the relationships. This book begins a new series that takes place after the "age of" books. I loved meeting new characters, visiting with a few familiar friends, and hearing how others became the stuff of legend. I can't recommend these books more highly for readers who like sagas, fantasy, great characters, and solid plotting. Note that if you're new to Sullivan, you can start at the beginning of any of the series and not be lost. I read the books in order of publication date, but you could also read chronologically, starting with the Age series. If you're an audiobook fan, you'll be happy to learn that Tim Gerard Reynolds is back as narrator. Truly, no one else could possibly be the voice for Sullivan's work. I bought both an audiobook copy and a print copy.

Home Waters by John N. Maclean (Custom House): This is more than the story of a family; it's a tribute to Montana, especially the big waters and the men who influenced both John and his father, Norman Maclean, the author of the novella "A River Runs Through It." In this well-crafted memoir, John tells the true story behind his father's fictionalized account of the Reverend Maclean and his sons, Norman and Paul. He also introduces us to his mother's family, the Burnses. John looks back at his family's history and recounts how he learned to fly fish, how five generations of Macleans have maintained the cabin built by his grandfather on the shores of Seeley Lake, and how Montana itself--with its wildness, waters, and beauty, shaped them all. For fans of his father's famous story, John writes about how the book came to be published by the University of Chicago Press, the factual account of his uncle Paul's death, and behind-the-scenes glimpses at how the movie was made. A beautiful book. For my thoughts on the audiobook, please see my review for AudioFile Magazine.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarity (Holt): This story of a missing sixty-something woman set in contemporary Sydney has some of the hallmarks of Moriarty's earlier work. The book starts with the disappearance of Joy Delaney on Valentine's Day 2020. Then the story looks into to the past, starting with the day about 6 months earlier that Joy and her husband answer their door to a young woman, clearly hurt and in distress. The present and past are revealed by introducing us to the four grown Delaney children and their father. We learn about their youth, their family dynamics, their relationships, their ambitions, and their connection to the sport of tennis. While the mystery of Joy's disappearance (a murder? a kidnapping? a running away?) and who may have been responsible is at the core of the novel, this is really the story of a family. For me, this was only okay. I didn't really connect to any of the characters and never got caught up in finding out what happened to Joy. The audiobook was read by Caroline Lee, who has narrated several of Liane Moriarty's books. Her performance was very good in terms of characterizations and expressive delivery.

Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker (Tor Teen): I really wanted to love this book, but it didn't hold my interest in either print or audiobook format. It took forever for the action to pick up, though we know quite early on that this will be a quest / journey type of story. And even when that quest starts, the drama wasn't really there for me. The author drummed home & overemphasized some of the bigger issues of the story instead of allowing us to experience and feel them along with the characters. I quit reading at about 56% in. The book has gotten good reviews and praise from both print/professional sources and consumer/social media reviewers. I'm in the minority.

All's Well by Mona Awad (Simon & Schuster): I picked this up because the audiobook is read by Sophie Amoss, who is one of my go-to audiobook performers. I should have known better, however, because I had mixed feelings about Awad's previous two novels (13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl & Bunny). Awad excels at creating strange situations and unique characters. Miranda, the main character in All's Well, is an actor-turned-drama professor who has been in horrible pain after sustaining an injury that ended her acting career. The plot revolves around pain, Miranda's relationship with her students, a little magical realism ... and I just couldn't take it anymore! I DNF'd at about halfway. Sophie Amoss was *brilliant* -- she absolutely understands where Awad is going and is the perfect narrator for the book. I doubt I'll give Awad another chance, no matter who is performing her next novel.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead): Hawkins's latest thriller / mystery starts with the murder of a young man who lived in a shabby narrowboat. The larger concern of who killed Daniel and why is revealed through the stories of nosy neighbors, relatives, a one-night stand, and others. Everyone has something to hide or has survived a previous traumatic event. Family relationships are strained at best. Too many unbelievable connections and coincidences and too many characters with too many problems bog down the plot. For my thoughts on the audiobook, see AudioFile Magazine.

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Putnam): I love Megan Abbott's work and I danced well into my 30s, so I had high hopes going into this thriller centered around two sisters who inherited a well-respected dance school from their mother. Sisters Marie and Dara Durant and Dara's husband, Charlie, grew up together and, in fact, lived together in the Durant family home until a few months before the story opens, when Marie moved out to live in a room above the dance school. It's fall, just weeks before the annual Nutcracker performance, when disaster strikes: there's a major fire in one of the practice studios. Enter a smooth-talking contractor who infiltrates the trio's lives, eventually threatening to expose their secrets and destroy all they hold dear.

The descriptions of the dance studio, the rehearsals, the jealousies, and the competition ring true. The relationship among Marie, Dara, and Charlie was formed when they were still children, all living with the Durant parents and all dancing under the tutelage of the girls' mother. The contractor is creepy and sleazy. It isn't easy to tell who is bad and who is good; you wonder whom to trust. The novel has the bones of a good thriller and held my attention, but I don't think is Abbott's strongest work. The tension gets derailed by too much description and I found it hard to root for any of the characters. The audiobook is read by Cassandra Campbell, who captures the characters' feelings and voices.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (William Morrow): Set in north London, the story is told from the viewpoints of two very different people. As they get to know each other over their newly discovered love of reading, they provide mutual support and stability at a much needed time. Seventeen-year-old Aleisha takes a summer job at the library only as a means to help her overworked brother and to bring extra money to the household while their mother is experiencing a particularly bad bout of depression. Mukesh turns to reading as a way to keep his connection to beloved late-wife and to forge a connection with one of his grandchildren. When Mukesh gets his first library card, he asks Aleisha for a book recommendation. She doesn't have one until she discovers a reading list tucked inside a returned library book. As the pair reads each of the books on the list, they discover how much reading has to offer and how important it is to let others into one's life. Sweet without being cloying; escape with some good messages. Recommended. The audiobook is performed by Tara Divina, Sagar Arya, and Paul Panting -- there are no weak links here; each narrator delivered on expression, characterizations, and emotions.

Invisible Years by Daphne Geismar (David R. Godine; my personal collection): An important and moving true story of the fate of an extended family during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Told via letters, interviews, photographs, and more, this is an incredible book. Sometimes emotionally difficult to read. This family story is made all the more important as eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Holocaust are aging and dying. It's nonfiction books like this that keep the true history alive and help prevent revisionist accounts.

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21 August 2021

Weekend Cooking: Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainHi all. Before you read on, note that this is the second half of a conversation about and review of Nadiya Hussain’s new cookbook Nadiya Bakes (Clarkson Potter). To see the first part of the conversation I had with Weekend Cooking host, Marg, be sure to visit her blog, The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

Now that you've read the start of our conversation, let me begin by telling you how excited I was to learn that Nadiya had a new cookbook coming out this summer. I’m grateful to Clarkson Potter for providing me with a digital review copy. I loved the book so much, I bought myself the hardcover.

I had to laugh at Marg’s reaction to my last question. I totally agree with her: almost every recipe looks appealing.

Me: I was curious, however, if it would be easy for Marg to find the called-for ingredients in her part of Australia.

Marg: Because there are so many recipes in this book that are a mix of cultures, some of the ingredients are a bit tricky to find in our major supermarkets. There are, however, a lot of smaller grocery stores which specialise in international ingredients and so there’s every likelihood you can find it with a little effort.

As an example, last weekend we decided to make Filo Cream Parcels, which is Nadiya’s version of a Lebanese dessert. One of the ingredients was called Orange Blossom Water. My husband did the shopping last weekend, so he looked for this ingredient at the major supermarket and couldn’t find it, then he tried another type of store where they have some unusual ingredients, and then went to the Indian grocery store.

We were watching the TV series where she shows you how to make this recipe, and she says add a splash of orange blossom water. I am not sure he was impressed that he had to go to so much effort to find an ingredient that we only used a dash of!! And now, I need to find some other recipes to use it in as I have a nearly full bottle of the stuff in the cupboard!

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainMe: Most of us want to know what it’s like to use a cookbook, so when you baked out of the book, did you find the instructions easy to follow? Was there enough information so you knew how to serve or store the dish?

Marg: So far, everything I have made has worked out quite well, especially the Chocolate Caramel Flan, so the instructions are definitely pretty easy to follow. I do find there were quite a few recipes where you need a lot of bowls. Do one step, then in another bowl do this, and so on. As for storage, I am not sure that this is something I have thought about. For some bakes I don’t have to worry about this question. For others I do. Depends if my son tries it and likes it or not. For the filo parcels it suggested that they needed to be eaten within a day of making them, but we decided against trying to see that as a challenge and just stored them in the fridge. They still tasted delicious even if the filo wasn’t as crispy.

Me: Yeah, I know what you mean about not worrying about following the serve and store suggestions exactly; I'm the same way. But I was really happy that Nadiya provided storage information for the Coffee Meringue Bark recipe (see below). In this case I paid attention, and the bark held up really well despite the summer heat and humidity.

Marg: How did you like the format of the book, and have you seen any of the associated Netflix series?

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainMe: I really like the great variety of “bakes” in this cookbook. When I first heard the title, I was expecting all desserts, but I was pleased to see a variety of savory bakes as well. And I love that Nadiya introduces each recipe with a note that explains her personal connection to the dish and how she tweaked it. The photos are gorgeous and I also appreciate that each recipe includes estimated prep time.

I have watched almost half of her latest Netflix series—also called Nadiya Bakes—and plan to bake along with her this fall. It’s been fun to get to know other bakers through that show. I also really liked her series Time to Eat, which is all about feeding your family in real life when you don’t have time to spend all day on just one dessert or dish. I haven’t yet looked around YouTube to see if she has additional videos, but her personality shines on camera, and I always feel as if I were visiting with a friend.

Me: What surprised you about the cookbook?

Marg: I think the thing I like the most about the cookbook is that you can hear Nadiya’s voice in the writing. As you said, on the TV show, she comes across as being really authentic, talking about her family and culture. For example, in the recipe for Honeycomb Rolls, she is talking about making the honeycomb she says
To make the honeycomb, put the sugar in a large pan along with the golden syrup. This magical stuff expands really quickly, so you do need a decent sized pan. Have a baking tray lined and greased, ready for the honeycomb to be poured onto. Prep is key here—molten sugar allows no dilly-dallying.
I can hear her saying this!

I really wish that there was a picture of every recipe, but I do wish that of every cookbook. Having said that, I do think that the book itself is very nicely styled.

I also liked the mix of recipes between sweet and savoury, vegan, no bakes, complex and simpler recipes.

Me: Oh, yes, I agree about the mix of recipes. I think almost everyone will be inspired to make several.


I want to thank Marg for coming up with the idea for a joint review. This was a fun conversation to put together and I think we’ve given everyone a real feel for what Nadiya Bakes is all about.

I decided to share the recipe for Coffee Meringue Bark from Nadiya Bakes because it’s gluten free. It’s not vegan, but I think most of you will be able to fit this dessert into your eating plan.

I love meringue anyway, but the coffee flavor is outstanding in this bark. I also appreciate that it isn't too sweet and not at all filling. If you store the bark the way Nadiya suggests, it will last a good long time.

Coffee Meringue Bark
Makes 2 large sheets
Prep: 20 minutes
Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussienCook 1 hour
  • Butter for greasing the baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Put the egg whites in a large grease-free bowl and have 1/2 cup (100g) sugar ready. Preheat the oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Put the egg yolks in a small bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons (25g) of the sugar. Put the instant coffee in another small bowl with the hot water and mix. Add to the egg yolk mixture and set aside.

Using electric beaters or a stand mixer if you have one, begin whisking the egg whites until really foamy. As soon as they increase in volume, start adding the sugar a small spoonful at a time, whisking for at least 10 seconds between each addition. It's really important that all the sugar crystals dissolve so the bark doesn't leak. After each addition, stop and scrape down the sides to get any stray sugar crystals. Do this until you have stiff peaks that are glossy and shiny.

Now, beat the coffee and egg yolk mixture until it is glossy, shiny, and smooth and quadrupled in size. This mixture should be really thick, but not so stiff that it will not run off the beaters.

Divide the egg white mixture between the two sheets, spreading really thin to a 12-inch (30cm) square. Drizzle the coffee mixture all over the egg whites, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Bake for 1 hour, which will give it lots of time to dry out and create a really good snap. Once the time is up, let cool completely. As soon as it's totally cooled, snap into shards and pop into an airtight container where they will happily keep. Meringue bark loses its snap if left out on a humid day, so make sure to get into that airtight container once cool.

Note: Recipe and photos are shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder. The bark photo is my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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