Cloud Eggs for Easter
One of the most prevalent symbols of spring is the egg. The birds are busy building their nests and the Easter Bunny is gathering chocolate eggs to fill up children’s baskets. Although many families color hardboiled eggs for holiday tables, as we get older we look for a more sophisticated alternative to the brightly colored eggs.
Scrambled, once-over-easy, sunny-side up, hardboiled, poached and deviled - there are many variations of how you can enjoy your eggs. But have you ever tried Cloud Eggs? The concept is simple. Separate the whites and the yolks, whip up the whites and bake them as a soft meringue, then top with the yolk and finish baking until the yolk is lightly set.
We aren’t talking about hard sweet meringue cookies, but a soft, savory chewy meringue base topped off with a golden yolk…. Heavenly! They only take a few minutes to bake and are perfect for an Easter morning brunch. Because you can bake them all at once, you aren’t a slave to the stove as you would be if you were cooking once-over-easy eggs or individual omelets.
If you have children at the table, you might want to add a tiny speck of food coloring to their meringues to add a little touch of magic on Easter.
4 large eggs
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
You will need a large glass mixing bowl for the egg whites and tiny individual bowls for the egg yolks. If you prefer, you can hold the individual yolks in the eggshell halves set in the egg carton. Be very careful to not break the yolks. The large bowl and beaters must be scrupulously clean with no trace of egg yolk or oil/grease or the egg whites will not properly whip.
Divide the eggs, placing all of the whites into a large mixing bowl, and placing each individual yolk into a separate small bowl. Make sure there is no trace of egg yolk or shells in the whites.
With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on low until foaming, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the egg white foam begins to increase in volume. Gently sprinkle in the cream of tartar at the side of the bowl continuously beating.
Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating the egg whites until they have increased to approximately 4 times the volume. Be careful not to overbeat the egg whites or they will separate, clump and become too dry.
Set the beater aside and gently fold in 2 tablespoons of the cheese and 2 tablespoons of the chives. Be very careful to not deflate the foam in the process. Spoon the egg whites into four mounds on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between the mounds.
Using a spoon, make an indentation in the top center of each meringue – this is where you will place the yolk after the whites have cooked a bit.
Bake the meringues for 3 minutes. Open the oven door and carefully pour an individual egg yolk into the indentation on each meringue. Continue baking for 3 minutes until the yolks are set and the meringues are lightly browned.
To serve, sprinkle each cloud egg with additional cheese and chives adding a little salt and pepper to taste.
Note: The cream of tartar is an acid that helps stabilize the protein in egg white foam. It will help keep the egg white foam moist, elastic and sturdier – a perfect base for the yolks. If you don’t have any cream of tartar you could use freshly squeezed lemon juice or distilled white vinegar at the ratio or ¼ teaspoon per egg white.