Kapiti blogging friend Nikki is an inspiring advocate for cooking with retained heat and residual heat.
Talking with her got me thinking about those recipes for meringues where you pre-heat the oven, turn it off as soon as you put the meringues in, and leave them overnight.
My daughter and I had a go at some chocolate chip ones this evening, using a recipe from The Uncommon Gourmet. (And when we'd dolloped about half the choc-chip meringue mix onto a tray, we also added some orange zest to the rest.)
Now it's approaching midnight. My daughter is tucked up in her bed, the meringues are tucked up in the oven, and everyone who's still up and about has strict instructions not to open the oven door till morning.
It may be foolhardy to attempt meringues on such a damp night, but we'd had this bowl of egg whites sitting in the fridge for two days, begging to be used. If you're wondering what we did with the yolks, we made kawakawa icecream - which I'd like to post on another time. It tasted divine, but those leaves are potent!
Back to meringues ... I've been wondering how much electricity our oven uses compared to our stovetop. Obviously making meringues with this residual heat method uses less power than baking any dessert that has the oven on for longer.
But how does it compare to making a dessert that only requires one stovetop element - even if it's turned on for longer? Like custard, or steamed pudding, or rice pudding? (Although I dare say desserts like rice pudding might work well using residual or retained heat - so perhaps really no need to leave the element on for a long time?)
I haven't done the research. If anyone else reading this has, I'd be interested to know.