There’s a bowl of four egg whites sitting sad and lonely at the back of the fridge. It’s a miserable sight. So what is the formula to convert this bowl of ugly, gloomy, slightly ‘icky stuff into something gorgeous? … it has to be a recipe for meringues.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways … Ooh, there are so many.
- Meringues make me smile – here they are little, pink clouds of happiness. It just isn’t possible to be grumpy with a meringue in front of you.
- I love a bit of culinary magic and for sure, some magic is involved when you make meringues. How can two ordinary ingredients like egg whites and sugar transform into such a glorious dessert?
- With a good recipe, meringues are super, super easy but they look seriously impressive – like you are a pro in the kitchen. There’s a mystique around them – a belief that they are SO difficult to get right. Pssst – want to know a secret? They aren’t difficult at all but let’s keep this a secret between us so that you can get the baking glory …
- It’s often a surprise to discover that meringues keep really well, so they are a perfect dessert for preparing well in advance. They will be perfect for 2 weeks in an airtight container, so get cooking now to enjoy later.
- They also freeze like a dream – who would have thought it?
- There’s so much scope to be creative with meringues. Here I swirled some red food colouring gel through the uncooked meringue mixture with a wooden skewer – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous and no fuss at all. I recently discovered a beautiful book called Meringue Girls by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman – it’s a treasure of a cookery book packed with the most stunning inspiration and recipes for meringues and meringuey desserts … check out the strawberry meringue ice lollies – inspired! Go on – unlock your inner Meringue Girl … or boy.
- And the fillings for meringues are gorgeous too. Here I made them small and sandwiched them together with whipped cream and some fresh raspberries – delicate and delightful. Served with sorbet, meringues are surprisingly lovely; a drizzle of chocolate sauce is also delicious; passion fruit a touch more exotic. The world is your oyster.
- And if a meringue disaster does strike, pick up the pieces and create Eton Mess … bits of meringue, cream and fruit served in individual dishes. The ultimate gorgeous food – no fuss.
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 115g caster sugar
- 115g icing sugar
- Red food colouring gel
- 300ml whipping cream, softly whipped
- 200g fresh raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 110ºC, 225ºF (gas mark ¼). Line two baking sheets with baking parchment paper - sometimes they will stick on greaseproof paper.
- Tip the egg whites into a large, clean, glass or metal bowl. Using an electric hand whisk, beat on a medium speed until they stand up in stiff peaks when the blades are lifted.
- Now turn the speed up and start to add the caster sugar, a dessertspoonful at a time. Continue beating for a couple of seconds between each beating. It's important to add the sugar slowly at this stage as it helps prevent the meringues from weeping later. Don't over beat.
- Sift one third of the icing sugar over the mixture, then gently fold it in with a large metal spoon. Continue to sift and fold in the remaining icing sugar a third at a time. Again, don't over mix.
- Scoop up the mixture a dessertspoonful at a time and make 8 rough mounds on each baking sheet - 16 in total.
- Bake in the oven for 1¼ - 1½ hours until the meringues sound crisp when tapped underneath.
- Leave to cool on the baking sheets or a cooling tray.
- When cold, gently mix the raspberries into the softly whipped cream and use to sandwich together the meringues into pairs.