If you're not a food-obsessed Instagram follower, you may have missed the cloud egg rage, but this clever way to cook eggs isn't just pretty. Cloud eggs are delicate and delicious, too. The method is also quite versatile, perfect for playing around with different flavors by changing the type of cheese used, adding minced herbs, even stirring in some crumbled bacon or a few spices. Then the results can be eaten all on their own, used to top salads or grain bowls, or set upon an English muffin for the tallest take on eggs Benedict you've ever seen. They don't need a sauce—the cheese adds plenty of flavor—but a bit of Green Garlic Pesto is pretty good alongside.
One drawback: They don't keep particularly well, so plan on serving and eating them when they come out of the oven. For a bigger group, this recipe easily doubles or triples—you just need the baking sheets to handle all the clouds or bake them in batches.
- 4 eggs
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Garnish: chives and/or dill
- Preheat and oven to 400F and arrange a baking rack in the top third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil it (spray oil works nicely).
- Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a big bowl. If you happen to have a copper bowl for beating egg whites, this is the time to use it! Set the yolks aside.
- Whisk the egg whites until they’re foamy—use the biggest whisk you have to beat as much air as possible into them. Add the salt. Keep whisking until firm peaks form—when you lift the whisk out of the whites the peak that forms should hold its shape. For more details see How to Whip Eggs. (Note: you can do this with electric beaters or a standing mixer, but whisking such a small number of whites goes fairly quickly by hand and is less of a clean-up hassle, plus you get just the teeniest of workouts!)
- Gently fold in the cheese—run a rubber or silicone spatula down along the side of the bowl, under the egg whites mixture and back up the other side fo the bowl, lifting and turning the egg whites and the cheese together without causing the egg whites to lose too much of the air you've worked so hard to incorporate into them.
- Spoon the egg whites in 4 equal mounds on the parchment-lined or oiled baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to make egg yolk-size wells in the center of each one. Don't add the yolks yet! Bake until just starting to color, about 5 minutes.
- Gently spoon a yolk into the center well of each “cloud.” Return to the oven and bake until the yolk is runny, 3 minutes, or up to fully set, 8 minutes.
- Mince the chives and/or dill and use them to garnish the cloud eggs, if you like. Serve immediately.