Thursday, 23 August 2012

Making Meringues

Meringues are extremely simple to make, but they require both a sense of leisure and a dry day, or at least good central air conditioning in order for best results to be achieved. The requirements for good results are strict, but easily achieved: room temperature egg whites, squeaky clean oil free implements, well dissolved sugar and that dry day. These are not a good rainy day project, I'm afraid. The good news is they keep very well and can be made in advance.

I only made 6 meringue nests with the recipe below, and I have to say they really were too big. Not that we didn't all of us eat every bite of them, but still; too big. Next time I will make them smaller. These are more of a versatile componant of other desserts than a thing to eat by themselves, in my opinion, but there's no reason why you can't.

8 to 12 meringue nests
OR 36 cookies
OR 2 cake bases
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time PLUS time to cool completely

3 extra-large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

You need to have your egg whites at room temperature. I always forget to take them out early enough, so set the eggs in a bowl of warm - not hot - tap water for about 5 minutes. Then, preheat the oven to 200°F.

Separate the eggs and put the whites in a clean dry mixing bowl, ceramic, glass or metal but not plastic. It is important that the egg whites be completely free of any oils, and plastic tends to be oily. Also be very careful when separating the eggs to not permit any egg yolk to contaminate the whites.

Add the vanilla and cream of tartar, and beat the egg whites with an electric mixer, on low to medium speed, until just past frothy and starting to gain some structure. Begin adding the sugar, a bit at a time, beating for a few seconds between each addition. Once it is all in, continue beating until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are very stiff.

Cover a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper, and spoon the meringue mixture out into little mounds for cookies, or larger flattish discs for nests - use your spoon to build up the sides a bit if you want them to be more nest-like.

Bake them for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them cool completely in the oven.

What you do now is up to you. I piled mine with whipped cream and fruit, but you could eat them with custard, or just plain, or if you are treating them like cake, layer them with mousse and frost them. They will store for a week or so carefully and loosely wrapped in a plastic bag, so can easily be made in advance.

Last year at this time I made Strawberry-Banana Sorbet. Another thing that could be put in a meringue nest!


luckiest1 said...

I love meringues! Unfortunately, they are quite hard to come by these days, except by special order at a local bakery. I recently tried making them for myself, and although it appears I did a number of things wrong (especially baking them on a cold, rainy day LOL) they turned out quite well. I froze my left overs for later use, which also worked out well. Yours look delicious!

Suzanne said...

I just found your blog (searching canning recipes) and I am so glad I did! I am a rookie gardener.

I made meringues for Eton Mess on tuesday this past week and I wish I'd waited until thursday because I would have known to get my eggs to room temp. They turned out ok with a heck of a lot of beating and caster sugar, but what a great tip.

Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.

luckiest1 said...

BTW I've given you a Liebster award, check out the details here:

Ferdzy said...

Thanks, Luckiest1! Very kind of you to think of me. I'll try to get time to respond some time this week, but it's going to be a very busy one.