Perfect Meringue in an Imperfect World

So, this weekend I made meringue cookies.

Why meringue cookies?

1. I have a new mixer. 2. I had extra eggs. 3. I was craving sweet treats, most of which aren’t healthy enough for my new no-gluten eating.

I also had two five-year-olds who wanted everything to do with cookies and cracking eggs and loved the idea of making meringue.

To tackle this project, I started by reading all about meringue. Here’s what I learned: the good news is that this fun little dessert is pretty much egg whites (healthy!) and air (even healthier!). The bad news was that making meringue is hard. Probably not hard for real cooks, but most of my “real” cooking has been enchilada recipes on the back of Campbell soup cans. Recipes that call for a little Cream of Whatever soup, some meat, and lots and lots of cheese. In other words, recipes with lots of room for error.

Meringue? No room for error. None. Zip.

Cooking website after cooking website freaks out about the “meringue rules.” Not even one drop of yolk in your egg whites! Sanitize your hands so no oil ever comes in contact with the utensils that will touch the meringue. Absolutely no humidity around the meringue (in Houston? What?). Always use room temperature eggs. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time. Bake for hours.

Rules like this are exactly why I avoid French cooking and stick to recipes that celebrate extra cheese, flexibility, and creativity. But my cooking assistants were aproned up and ready for action. We had to conquer the meringue.

We did. Sort of. After three dozen eggs, several spoiled batches, and more gloopy egg white mess than a kitchen should see in a day, we had one batch of successful meringue. Hours and hours and diligent egg-seperating and beating and baking attempts and we had one batch that survived.

What happened? We didn’t follow the rules. Specks (teeny , tiny specks) of yolk floated in our whites, the eggs were a smidge above room temperature, we touched the beaters with our oily hands. But my assistants and I would like you to know that the one batch that turned out was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Coincidentally, this weekend I also worked on a book project about law and gospel. I’m writing about our decreasing sense of sin–how our society is becoming less aware of our sin. When we’re less aware of our sin, we’re less aware of why we need Jesus. In the book, I’m looking closely at the Ten Commandments.

So, the weekend of making fussy meringue and studying the Ten Commandments was an interesting break from my usual attitude of “close enough” and “just put extra cheese on it.” I learned that ten degrees makes or breaks meringue. A spot of yolk blemishes an otherwise flawless egg white mixture. Adding sugar too fast turns a delicious dessert into one in the trash can. I learned that there’s no close enough in meringue. It’s not chicken enchiladas.

Which is so much like us trying to follow the Ten Commandments. Close enough is never enough. This sounds so politically incorrect and downright mean in our  “No one can tell you you’re not good enough!” world. But, just like the meringue, there’s no fudging. Imperfections don’t work for our holy God.

The beauty is that once you really realize that all this is true, you also realize through Christ, you can still taste the delicious taste of a redeemed life. You can take  your chicken-enchilada-self to our meringue-perfect Father, and He welcomes you with open arms.

And that’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

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