marvelous meringues

Meringues can be made with relative ease though many people feel they are complicated.  It could not be less true. 

Meringues are made with just caster sugar, egg whites and a pinch of salt.  What other dessert creates something so lovely, puffy, fluffy and sweet without too many ingredients?

There are few tricks to learn but once you understand what a meringue needs, you’ll be making them often….to the delight of your friends. 

The tricks

I really like the recipes of Jamie Oliver because they are fool proof.  Here are some of his best suggestions for meringues.

Make sure your mixing bowl is very clean, you can clean the bowl with very hot water to make sure it is free of any fat or unwanted particulars.  Dry the bowl well with a clean towel.  

Meringues are made with egg whites and do not like any fat—as above make sure everything you use is sparkly clean and free from grease.

You can make meringues to be chewy by baking for 1 hour, or more crispy by baking for two hours, turning off oven and leaving them in the oven with the oven door slightly open.

Caster sugar is king in meringues- the granules are much finer than granulated sugar.  If you use granulated the meringue becomes flat (I have had this happen on many occasions!)


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8 egg whites using large eggs- this is about 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of egg whites

1 1/3 cup of caster sugar

sprinkling of powder sugar

Optional ingredients that I always add for a kick, and people try to guess what the flavors are

¼ cup shelled and bashed pistachios

zest of one lemon

Garnish options

fresh mint leaves for garnish

powdered sugar or cocoa powder 

 

time.  30 minutes prep, 1 to 2 hours baking

level.  intermediate

serves.  6


 

1.     Preheat oven to 300-degrees.

2.     Take out a large baking pan- 13 x 17 inches or you can you two smaller ones.

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3.     Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle paper lightly with powdered sugar (just an extra step to prevent sticking).

4.     Zest the skin of one unwaxed lemon, set aside.

5.     Remove the shells of pistachios, place the nuts in a plastic baggie and bash with a meat tenderizer or whatever suits you.  Set aside.

6.     Separate egg whites from yolks.  If you do this one at a time in a small bowl and then add to bigger bowl, it  prevents any major waste if you make a mistake.

7.  Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl of electric mixer and mix with whisk attachment on medium speed until egg whites are in soft peaks.  It should take about two minutes and you know egg whites are done when you remove the mixing bowl and turn it upside down without anything falling out. 

8.     With the mixer on medium speed slowly pour in the caster sugar until all incorporated, after all sugar is added, throw in a pinch of salt.

9.     Set a timer for 7 minutes.

10.     Turn mixer on the highest setting and whip the mixture until it is gorgeous and glossy.  Check to determine if it is done by pinching some mixture between your thumb and index finger and no longer feel granules.  Do not over mix or the meringue can flop but if you set timer, you are most likely fine.

10.  Glue the parchment paper to the baking sheet by dabbing the corners baking sheet with a little meringue.

11.  With parchment paper secure, place the meringue mixture on the baking sheet and spread out- like a brownie batter.  Try to make even and not too close to edge as it can puff up over, not that it really matters.

12.  Pop in the oven and cook for 1 hour for chewy, or 2 hours for crispy.  Turn off oven and leave in to allow to dry out if you wish.  I always like the chewy ones.

The origin of a meringue is disputed but believed to come from the town of Meiringen, Switzerland, and created by the pastry chef Gasparini in 1720.  The magical creations became a favorite throughout the courts of Europe.  The original shape was in mouth-size portions, and often referred to as a small kiss.