Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Angels and Saint Francis of Assisi

The Memorial of the Guardian Angels is October 2nd. As we had an angels' fair earlier this week, there are already many good angelic ideas swirling around for this feast day. It's a great week for liturgical feasting! But on the negative side, all these back-to-back feast days can mean an accumulation of leftover sweets -- not always good for the waistline, nor for the budget. So this recipe idea can be double duty for both St. Francis of Assisi (October 4) and Guardian Angels (October 2) (and light on the waistline).

I was researching foods for the feast of St. Francis, looking for regional foods from Umbria, or directly from Assisi and found this recipe from Mary Ann Esposito, of Ciao Italia. It's a simple meringue recipe. The concept of having light, airy meringue kisses to remind us of the heavenly hosts isn't original. What makes this recipe unique is that it is an Assisi version that is a PINK meringue with sprinkles.

(And for some reason the pink meringue reminds me of a sweet little out-of-print booklet printed by the Daughters of St. Paul entitled The Little Angel with the Pink Wings.)

The angels connection with Saint Francis that immediately came to mind is the The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli or Saint Mary of the Angels which is in the foothills of Assisi, where the Portiuncula chapel is encased.

Mary Ann Esposito explains the flavoring and coloring she uses is Alchermes, an Italian liqueur, sweet, red, cinnamon and clove flavored. You can substitute with food coloring, cherry or cranberry juice.
Meringhe (Meringues)

4 egg whites of large eggs, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons Alchermes liqueur or other flavoring or coloring
Colored sprinkles
Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. With an electric mixer in a glass or copper bowl (free of oil) beat until smooth the egg whites and 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar together. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar and the Alchermes or other flavoring and continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form.

Fit a large pastry bag with a large star tip and fill with the meringue. On the parchment paper on the sheets, pipe 1 1/2-inch star meringues onto the cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the tops of the meringues with colored sprinkles. Alternately, use a teaspoon to drop meringue one inch apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake in 300ºF. oven for 1 hour or until the meringues are firm and completely dry. Rotate the baking sheets once or twice while baking. Carefully remove from the parchment paper and let cool completely on wire racks.
Our Guardian Angels, protect and pray for us.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us. Pin It

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting, Jenn. Thanks for finding and posting it. That Italian liqueur sounds intriguing - I had not heard of it.