I have to encourage people trying to bake and my friend Mark, a fellow Baritone from our Chorus posted a picture of his first attempt at making Meringues, it didn’t go well. I invited him over to my house and we made meringues together. I have to say he is a Grade A student!
I am no expert, I have failures from time to time – however I do have a list of hints and tips that help when making meringues.
Meringues Hints and Tips – Recipie Below.
You can divide people into two camps, those that like a crisp meringue and those that like a chewy one. Cards on the table time here, I’m on the chewy side of things, if you want to go down the crispy, powdery version omit any vinegar and or cornflour in your recipe. Cooking a powdery meringue takes longer and you leave them in the oven for much longer to really dry out.
I’m told that older eggs are better for making meringue. I’ve not done exhaustive testing but why disagree with those that know?
Grease is the enemy of egg whites and one of the most greasy things in a kitchen is egg yolk. When separating out your eggs I use a spotlessly clean mug, separate the egg white from the yolk and then add the egg white to your bowl one by one. If you happen to puncture one of the yolks then you have only wasted one egg. Make sure your mixing bowl is uber-clean – straight out of the dishwasher will do fine. If your bowl has been left standing then a wipe round with lemon juice (making sure you dry it) to cut away grease. Do not handle your mixer blades with bare hands hold with a piece of kitchen paper.
Egg white must, must… MUST be at room temperature.
When whisking the egg whites go as far as the recipe suggests, over beating will give you a dry final mix, you want glossy. Over whisking can also result in the sugar coming out of suspension during cooking and give you a leaky product with burnt crystallised sugar edges.
Cooking – meringues do need to be cooked but the cooking is usually at a low temperature and is a mixture between cooking and drying out, browning is not really what we are after.
Stick down your baking parchment – before you pipe (or spoon) your mix onto your baking parchment take a tiny daub of mix at each corner of the baking tray and use that to stick the paper in place.
Golden caster or white caster sugar? Golden caster does give a nice caramel taste to a meringue, but sometimes the creamy colour of the finished product does not look as nice as a sharp white one. You could go for half and half, if this is your first attempt then stick to white, you can experiment next time. Some writers claim the moisture in golden caster makes a meringue too chewy.
Heating the sugar, some recipes recommend this as they say it melts into the egg white quicker. I have never tried this and never found that adding sugar is a problem. One thing is essential though do not dump the caster sugar into the egg whites in one go. This will collapse the bubbles you of air that you have been working so hard to incorporate. Add the sugar spoon-by-spoon making sure that it is combined well, the mix should turn more glossy as you add the sugar. Take care it dissolves into the egg white, don’t add more if the mix is still grainy.
Sea Salt Caramel Meringues
Preheat oven to 120C Fan/140C/Gas 1/275F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
With your separated egg whites in a clean bowl whisk until you get to soft peak stage.
Mix together your Caster Sugar and Cornflour. With the mixer at full speed add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until all incorporated and you have a firm glossy mix.
Pipe or spoon the mixture onto baking trays in 16 portions the same size. Leave a little space between each meringue, as they will grow a little in the cooker.
Bake for 1 hour, turn as required after 40mins if one side is colouring. When your hour is up turn the oven off and crack open the door, leave for a further hour in the cooling oven.
Once cooled you can store the meringues in an airtight tin until you are ready to serve.
- 100g Dark Chocolate
- Double Cream
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tbsp Dulce De Leche
- Sprinkle Of Sea Salt
Melt the chocolate over simmering water or short blasts in the microwave. Stop heating when there are just a few lumps, the residual heat will finish the job off. Dip the flat sides of the meringues into the chocolate, scrape away the excess and place flat side down on baking parchment to set. This layer prevents the cream from making the meringues go soggy.
Whisk together the Double Cream and Vanilla Extract, do not over whip you want to retain a luscious texture. Swirl the Dulce De Leche along with a pinch of Sea Salt Flakes through the whipped cream and then sandwich the meringues together and serve.