I need to be absolutely clear here, the shop bought meringues bear no resemblance to these crisp but wonderfully chewy pockets of heaven. They are Ying and Yang, Fanny Craddock to Nigella, Ann Widdecombe to Kim Kardashian, my pelvic floor to an Archery Bow with a range of 2m. You get my drift I’m sure. In this I am sincere, I feel it’s the best kept secret in the whole of Cooking Land. And when I say they are crazily easy to make I mean they should have their own program on CBeebies. Further more once the meringue making is mastered you will be able to make show stopping Pavlovas with exactly the same recipe. In fact I think they are even easier than the meringues, less dolloping. This is hold onto your pants stuff I know.
My sister in law makes killer meringues and on family get togethers they regularly feature. With strawberries or raspberries and softly whipped cream they really are simply to die for. Like a handsome fireman, they are welcome everywhere, Sunday Lunch, a Dinner Party, a pudding to take with you to a Party. Quintessentially English, always a good thing.
In the summer we had BBQs down by the river with friends and their children. I always took meringues, such a brilliant picnic dessert, easy to transport and no plates or spoons required. I detest washing up after a picnic. I would bring along a Tupperware pot of whipped cream for everyone to plunge their meringues into. Whats double dipping amongst good friends? We would usually stay till dark, lighting a fire, kids toasting and eating marshmallows till I couldn’t believe they weren’t sick, playing Chinese whispers and hide and seek in the dark with lots of award winning screaming. I love the thought that these picnics will make the most wonderful childhood memories for my children. It is one of my greatest pleasures putting them to bed late, dirty and exhausted after a summer picnic, knowing that they’ve had a ball. Halycon Days.
So once you become confident with this you can really go crazy. You can play about with flavour combinations-add Nutella, lemon curd, sweetened chestnut purée to the cream (Mont Blancs) whatever floats your boat. Pavlova wise the possible combos will probably make you have to sit down. I have a few very dear to my heart. Nigellas take some beating. One recipe that I am desperate to make is a Dacquoise which was featured on Great British Bake Off last week. When I was a child I had a dessert at my Grandparents that was so delicious I have not been able to forget it and from time to time I keep trying to guess what it was, racking my childlike recollections. It had Maltesers on top (as all great puddings do) squashed onto piped chocolate cream and I think a nutty meringue thing going on. Nuts and meringue are the culinary equivalent of Terry and June. So when I saw this recipe on the Bake Off I had a lightbulb moment. This could be it. If it is I shall have it on my Birthday forever more, force feed anyone that crosses my threshold with it and sleep a little easier in my bed(apart from the night sweats).
- 5 egg whites
- 300g caster sugar
- Separate eggs using 2 mugs and the clean (no grease or whites won’t whip up)bowl you are going to be mixing in.With each white that you break into the mug,as long as the yolk doesn’t break at all(even a little bit) tip into your mixing bowl each time.That way if you do break a yolk and it goes into the white you can throw it away and not lose the others.If you’re unsure about separating eggs watch a couple of videos on you tube,you have to be careful but that’s all.Its as hard as it gets trust me.
- Whisk up egg whites-it’s easier in a free standing mixer but an electric whisk will do the job too.You just keep whisking until it’s a stiff white frothy foam.
- Then add the sugar a heaped tablespoon at a time.You can add it quicker after the first half has gone in if you must.If you are using an electric whisk then get someone to spoon it in for you.
- Keep whisking fast and you will see it become glossy and smooth and super stiff.To check pull the whisk out and it should form a mountainous peak that stands completely stiff and still.’
- Now my favourite bit,dollop them into mini mountains using spoons.I did 12
- Put them in the oven at 110C electric 100C fan oven for 1 1/2hour ish.I always stick a knife in the bottom of one and have a look inside to check its not too wet still-you want chew like toffee.
- Cool on a baking tray
- Seriously apply to face with mountains of whipped cream.