Meringues, those lighter-than-air delicacies that can fool us into thinking they’re calorie-free, were created in the early eighteenth century by a Swiss pastry-cook named Gasparini, and they’ve been popular ever since. Meringues can be made as Individual Confections or as part of larger desserts as we’ll show you.
When whisking meringues it’s important to start with a very clean and grease-free bowl. It also needs to be a wide open bowl so air can circulate and be incorporated easily.
Rather than cook meringues, the idea is to let them dry out in a very cool oven.
- 2 egg whites
- 4 oz caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 110°C, gas mark ¼. Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they are stiff and stand in peaks. Add half the sugar and whisk well. Gently fold in the remaining sugar.
Spoon about 10 rounds of meringue onto the baking sheets. Instead of spooning the meringue, you can pipe rounds or fingers of it. Bake for about 2 – 3 hours.
Cool on a wire rack and sandwich together with fresh whipped cream.
Chocolate Chip Meringues
Follow the basic recipe but when you fold in the sugar, fold in 2 oz grated good-quality plain chocolate as well. You may also choose to add some grated Chocolate to the whipped cream as well.
These lack the authentic taste and delicacy of true meringues, but everyone should try making microwave meringues at least once in their lives for the sheer novelty of watching them rise like magic!
- 10 oz icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg white
Lightly whisk the egg white. Sieve the icing sugar again over the egg white. Mix until you have a smooth paste. Roll into teaspoon-sized balls and place a few at a time on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Microwave on high power for about 1 minute and 20 – 30 seconds. The balls will expand magically to create crispy meringues.
Cool and sandwich together with whipped cream or use as a base for a pudding such as …
- 1 lb strawberries
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 pint double cream
Wash, hull and dry the strawberries. Roughly chop half; mash the others to a puree with the sugar. (For a smoother finish, press through a sieve to remove the seeds.) Break the meringues into small pieces in a large bowl. Add the chopped strawberries and the lightly-whipped cream. Mix gently. Stir in the puree and serve in small glass sundae dishes.
Named after and created in honour of the famous Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, this dessert is claimed by both Australia and New Zealand.
- 3 egg whites
- 9 oz caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 dessertspoonful cornflour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 120°C, gas mark ½. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites until very stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the vinegar and vanilla and continue to beat for a few minutes. Gently fold in the cornflour. Spread the meringue mixture onto the paper in the shape of a large round. Cook for about 1½ hours until firm. If the meringue starts to brown, continue to cook but with the oven door slightly open.
To decorate the pavlova you’ll need ½ pint double cream, and some sliced fresh strawberries. Whip the cream until thick and pile it on top of the cooled meringue base. Arrange the strawberries decoratively on top. Kiwi fruit, raspberries and passion fruit all make good alternatives to strawberries.
And now for a completely different sort of meringue.
This can be made from store-cupboard ingredients but still looks very impressive.
- 1 ready-made 8” flan case (or slightly stale sponge cake)
- Tin peaches, drained
- 1 tub good quality vanilla ice cream
- 6 egg whites
- 12 oz caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8. Place the sponge cake on a greased baking sheet. Arrange the peach slices on top of the sponge. Cover with ice-cream, leaving space around the edge. Place in the freezer to chill.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar until you have a glossy meringue. Cover the ice-cream and cake completely with the meringue mixture. Use a fork to draw it up into peaks. Cook immediately for 5 minutes or until the meringue is just set and lightly browned. Serve straightaway.