Yesterday, I had a startling sweet revelation in Strasbourg, France.
The world’s alleged “Capital of Christmas,” this city in the heart of Alsace plays host to some of the most impressive Christmas markets (Marches de Noel). (Mostly) tourists and locals browse through stalls selling everything from yummy crepes, confisseries, crafts, and hot mulled wine to your run-of-the-mill touristy kitsche.
Among dazzling array of sweets, I discovered a novelty… soft meringe balls dipped in chocolate. To my delight, the meringue fillings came in various flavors – cinammon and rum raisin being my two favorite (I also found vanilla, strawberry, and nature – or plains). To my politico-racial American sensitivities, I was horrified to discover that these innocent-looking little treats were called tetes des negres (literally – “head of black”).
I actually am not quite sure about the exact composition of these treats. The interior was fluffy, white and extremely creamy. I was told by many that the interior was indeed blonde d’oeuf, or egg whites. However, it tasted much more like whipped cream… one vendor confirmed that there indeed was a bit of cream added to the egg whites. Another, swore up and down that the fluff was only egg whites and sugar.
I would love to know how to make these puppies. If anybody out there is familiar with this Alsacian delight, please do post about it! Are they purely and merely meringues, or are they some quasi-whipped cream creation?
** Pictures pending**
(1) I found these little treats here in the Netherlands at the local supermarket (Hogvliet). Apparently they’re ubiquitous(ly politically incorrect) in Europe. The Dutch call these “Negerzoenens” – or “black kisses.” I found them marketed under the more politically correct English name “Angel Kisses” – although Negerzoenens was still prominently stamped across the top of the box. There was also a German brand called Dickmann’s.
(2) There’s an interesting discussion on this in a forum I started on eGullet.