About 10 years after the fact, I finally read The Da Vinci Code.
And I LOVED it.
The descriptions of paintings, sculptures, cathedrals, and cities were beautiful. I want to travel to those places so badly it ached to read about them- and ached even more when the book ended (returning me to my much less exciting college life filled with Pb&J sandwiches and "Friends" reruns).
Post-novel Depression. It's a thing. The 2 others in this saga, Angels & Demons (#1) and The Lost Symbol (#3) are definitely on my reading list for the near future. But I'm almost nervous to read them, what if they're not as good?! Though I'm so desperate for more Robert Langdon adventures that I probably wouldn't care if they were good or not. Love that guy. Actually I'm pretty sure that in another time continuum where literary characters can come to life, Mr. Langdon and I probably get married.
We had a lovely Renaissance themed wedding. I ate lots of cake. He talked about ancient marriage symbols in his deep, baritone voice. It was a good time.
But, back to real life.
Where, coincidentally, I also eat lots of cake.
Meringue Mushrooms. These piped swiss meringues are baked to form a beautifully crisp and light little treat that's dipped in chocolate. Super cute for yule logs, dirt cakes, or just in a bowl on your counter.
adapted from Martha Stewart - makes about 20
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips (milk, dark, semi-sweet - whatever you like)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
1) Preheat oven to 200F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a double boiler (or in a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, so that the bottom of the glass bowl doesn't touch the water's surface), whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Continue mixing for about 3-4 minutes until sugar is dissolved (rub a little of the mixture between your fingers, if it's still grainy cook a little longer). When dissolved, pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla. Whisk on high speed for about 7 minutes until the mixture reaches stiff, shiny peaks.
3) Place the meringue into a piping bag fit with a wide round tip. Pipe circles for the mushroom tops and short stems for the mushroom bases on the prepared baking sheet- making sure to get the same number of circles and stems (you'll glue them together with chocolate after they're baked). Bake for 1 hour at 200F. Then turn the heat down to 175F and continue to bake for another hour. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
4) Melt your chocolate chips. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate all around the bottom of the circle. Place a stem in the center of the circle. Using a toothpick make little lines in the chocolate around the stems to imitate the dark ribs underneath the mushroom's cap. Let set for half an hour.
5) Place 1 tablespoon cocoa powder in a sifter and lightly dust the tops with cocoa. Serve.