The Perfect Meringues
The perfect Meringue
To me baking is all about attraction and dressing things up so that it looks good going to the table
A perfect meringue is soft and mousse like beyond its composed exterior and collapses into a heap as you eat it. For all their simplicity, meringues can be difficult to get right, but when they do live up to their potential they are fine confection that needs little for accompaniment. Lightly whipped cream scented with coffee, chocolate, or vanilla, or some roast fruits will do.
The Egg whites
These should be at room temperature. If you keep your eggs in the fridge, take them out an hour before. Use organic or free range eggs; inferior eggs have watery whites that may fail to rise.
Meringues conform to a basic to a basic ratio of 1 large egg white to 4 tablespoons of sugar. I advocate a refined sugar for meringues, not least to encourage that snowy white hue. Use either superfine sugar, or half sugar and half confectioners ' sugar.
Meringues have two arch-enemies. The first is water; even a drop in the bowl or whisk will prevent the whites from rising. The other is grease; your bowl must be scrupulously clean.
Use a large bowl, but not one with a base so wide that the white is is to shallow to whip effectively. As to the whisk, electric whisks and mixers do not create as much volume as a balloon whisk ( that is solidly built with bars some 1/4 -inch wide)
Just a handful of large blowsy meringues, place centrally on the table for people to break up and help themselves, makes for informal eating. Alternatively, if they are to be sandwiched together for tea, you can make them smaller, in which case reduce the cooking time accordingly.
3 large eggs whites (preferably organic)
3/4 cup of castor sugar
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, Place the egg whites ina large bowl and beat them until they rise into a froth the consistency of shaving foam. From here sprinkle over a rounded tablespoon of sugar at a time, beating well with each addition until you have a smooth, glossy meringue. You can increase the sugar to 2 tablespoons towards the end. In theory the meringue should be stiff enough for you to hold the bowl upside-down above your head, though we don't recommend you risk this.
Line one or two baking sheets with parchment. Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the paper, leaving plenty of space between each meringue. If you like, you can make them bigger or smaller than this.
Place the meringue in the oven and turn it down to 225 degrees cook for 2 hours; if you are using two trays, then switch them around halfway through. The meringue by end should be crisp on the outside, and if you tap the base it should sound hollow within. Remove and let cool. They can be stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks .
Stir 1 heaping tablespoon of sifted cocoa powder into the finished meringue mixture. Dust over some more cocoa when serving them. Delicious served with butterscotch ice cream.
Scatter some sliced almonds over the meringues before baking them. Dust with icing sugar when you serve them. Good with vanilla custard and poached fruits like rhubarb and plums
Scatter a few chopped hazelnuts over the meringues before baking them. Good served with caramelized apples and pears, and whipped cream.
A few chopped pistachio sprinkled over before baking creates an unusal meringue that is surprisingly adaptable. you can serve these with raspberries and blackberries, as well as with pears in red wine, chocolate and coffee creams, or with lemon and orange sorbet.
Brown Sugar Meringues
Replace the white sugar with a light brown sugar and bake the meringues fot 2 hours at 250 degrees.
Using these different variations are really easy to prepare if you follow the directions and take your time as you prepare them and it can also be great fun to make so enjoy
The Handicapped Chef is owner of Triple H Catering and Consulting Service and Chef Brand Foods for more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.