I love a meringue - something like a soft-centred pavlova, piled high with cream and delicious fruits … but I know that making something that's both big AND fragile can be stressful and there's enough stress in life without bringing it into the kitchen. Yes, there is always scope to stick a large (cracked) meringue back together again with a dab or two of whipped cream (or resort to a quick rebranding as Eton Mess) but it's also a dessert that needs quite a lot of mouths to feed and we don't always have that at our disposal.
I had a gorgeous catch-up conversation the other day with an old neighbour whose signature dessert, back in the day, was a delicious meringue and I decided to experiment with making some low-stress mini meringues, which also turned out to be very high on the cute spectrum. May I introduce you to The Cutest Meringue Kisses.
What are Meringue Kisses?
They are teeny, tiny hand-piped meringues which are bite-sized and delicate. They are perfect for sandwiching together if you like your desserts in individual portions or they are ideal for adorning ice cream sundaes for that extra special flourish. They are soft enough in the centre that it's not like eating polystyrene (what I often don't enjoy about a shop-bought meringue) but sturdy enough that you won't have a sugary collapse on your hands - literally.
What do you need?
The joy of meringues is that you literally need just two ingredients and the ratio of one to the other is so simple (double the weight of caster sugar to egg whites).
- Egg whites - I used 3 large egg whites (which weighed 113g (4oz)). Eggs do vary so much in size that weighing the egg whites is definitely worth the effort.
- Caster sugar - I used 225g (8oz) (ie double the weight of the egg whites)
You will also need 2 large solid baking trays, each lined with baking parchment and a piping bag with a large nozzle (especially if you are keen to create pretty meringue kisses).
How to make Meringue Kisses
- Preheat the oven to 110ºC/100ºC Fan/225ºF (gas mark ¼).
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they reach the stiff peak stage and can be tipped upside down without the egg falling out.
- Now very slowly add the sugar to the egg mixture, whisking all the time - one dessertspoon at a time works well or add as a slow, continuous stream of sugar.
- Once you've added all the sugar, continue whisking on high for around 5 minutes or until the mixture forms a nice, smooth, shiny peak on the tip of your upturned finger.
- Carefully transfer the stiff meringue mixture into your piping bag.
- Start the meringue flowing through the piping bag, by piping small dollops of the meringue at each of the 4 corners of your baking trays and use as like glue to stick the baking parchment to the trays.
- Now pipe the meringue kisses onto the trays, leaving a small gap between each one. A diameter of about 4-5cm is perfect.
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the kisses easily lift off the parchment with the bases intact.
- Leave them to cool completely on the baking trays.
Tips for making Meringue Kisses
- Separate each egg white into a small bowl or cup before adding it to the others, that way if a yolk breaks you won’t have to start again.
- Egg sizes vary, even when they are all labelled as one size. Weighing the whites might seem a bit fussy, but it really is a good idea.
- Pipe your meringue as soon as it’s ready. The meringue will lose consistency if it sits around for a while.
- The piping can take a bit of practice, especially if you are trying to achieve uniformity (I suspect that we have the Bake Off to blame for that obsession!) so don't be too frustrated if the first few aren't terribly even or pretty.
- Aiming for a diameter of about 4-5cm is a good size for your kisses.
- The meringue kisses will keep well for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container.
How you might serve these cute little meringues
I especially love these meringues sandwiched together with some 'raspberry cream' (whipped cream with some chopped raspberries swirled through it).
They are also delicious served as part of an ice cream sundae with some raspberries, a little softly whipped cream and a simple fruit sauce (made by tumbling a handful of berries (frozen or fresh) into some warmed jam in a small saucepan and allowing the mixture to bubble until the berries are slightly soft).
A bowl of vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of a simple warm chocolate ganache is topped off perfectly with a couple of Meringue Kisses.
So many options - all of them gorgeous. To be honest, I've enjoyed a few straight from the box with a strong coffee, but shhhh, that's between you and me
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