Almond-Meringue Noodles

photo taken by sweetbeetandgreanbean, on December 29, 2011, CC licensing

There is no category in Austro-Hungarian cuisine that is as different from the cooking of other countries as the hot noodle and dumpling desserts to which this dish belongs. These desserts are almost always served hot, usually after the main course, but at times they constitute the main course of the meal. The dough or batter usually contains flour, eggs, and on occasion other ingredients, such as potatoes, cottage cheese, or farina. It can be boiled, baked, sautéed, or cooked using a combination of these methods. Outside the cooking of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Jewish cooking presents the best-known example for a similar type of dish: the lokshen kugel or noodle pudding, but the similarity is probably coincidental. Besides, lokshen kugel can be served either hot or cold, while most Austro-Hungarian noodle desserts are served hot. Riza neni's recipe for these almond-meringue noodles is a typical example of this category of hot desserts, but it is different from any such dish I know.

- 5 ounces dry fettuccine or tagliatelle
Alternate: make 1/3" -wide fresh noodles from 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 large egg, and 2-4 teaspoons water.
- 1 1/4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Special equipment: 8" x 8" x 2" gratin dish or any baking dish of about the same area food processor

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Boil pasta, but it should be slightly undercooked. Dry pasta should be boiled for about 10 minutes, fresh pasta for 2-3 minutes. Toss pasta with 1 tablespoon butter or margarine.

2. Coat the baking dish with the remaining 1/4 tablespoon butter or margarine.

3. Process almonds and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor until almonds are finely ground, about 30

4. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla extract, then whip them a little more until they become shiny and form firm peaks.

5. Spread 1/2 of the noodles in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 of the almond-sugar mixture and 1/2 of the raisins over them. Then cover this with the remaining noodles and finally sprinkle the remaining almond-sugar mixture and raisins over the noodles. Spread the beaten egg whites over the noodles all the way to the sides of the dish. Strew slivered almonds on top.

6. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake it in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until meringue is slightly brown and the slivered almonds are lightly toasted. Serve immediately. This dessert is best when fresh but you can keep leftovers for one day at room temperature or for up to one week in the refrigerator. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

Variation: Instead of the simple meringue, make a topping similar to the famed Salzburger Nockerl (Salzburg soufflé): Mix 1 large egg yolk with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat 3 large egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar to form firm peaks. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture and use this for the topping with the slivered almonds strewn over it.

Approximate time for preparation:
about 50 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Sephardic or Askhenazi