I am very particular about my Meringues. I want them deliciously chewy in the middle with a light and crisp crust on the outside. Nothing else is good enough…..nothing.
I came to Meringues semi late in life. I was at least 36 years of age before I tried my first homemade chewy meringue recipe. It was an epiphany. The crisp and sweet outer caved in at the merest touch of my spoon. But the chewy middle proved a different story. I was hooked. I think that it was at that moment that my small/massive obsession for home cooking really began. Who knew that such wonders could be simply created on your own work top? Who knew you could create absolute taste sensations with a packet of hobnobs and a cabbage? The world of the home cook drew me in, fattened me up and still hasn’t spat me out. And I really think it started with that first bite of a chewy meringue. Nowadays they still stop me in my tracks and served with a big bowl of cream and good strawberries there is NOT much better. My children go potty for them. As a result I feel like the best Mother in the world whenever I see their excitement and watch them literally open mouthed ramming in big bites of meringue ……….only a Mother could find it endearing. I wish I felt the same about brown rice.
This week saw me filling in at their school as a dinner lady. Of course it was only an excuse to get in a few extra squeezes and the odd undercover sniff. How wonderful it was to see them in the middle of the day. I felt strange policing the playground, a cut throat place as I remember. Unfortunately there wasn’t a spare whistle so I only had my snarl and a pair of gloves to break up any funny business. Obviously I just wanted to play hopscotch and British Bulldogs with my children but it wouldn’t have been very P.C. So I set to saving little boys from kiss chase and lots of general thumping. I found it a little unsettling to be honest. I am obviously much more in my comfort zone feeding than policing. I wished I could have handed out some meringues. They would have been much more effective than a whistle.
Meringues are just the best picnic food too. I cook them throughout Summer for day’s out and weekends away in the caravan. They travel and keep well and I take along a punnet of strawberries or raspberries and a tupperware pot of whipped cream in a cold bag. I hand out the meringues and people simply use their meringues to scoop out the cream and eat the strawberries out of the bowl. I’m talking Enid Blyton here. I love handing them out with a big wave of whipped cream sitting on the top (which is the bottom really). No plates required just a packet of wet wipes. No washing up. Genius.
This brings me to my final and very important point. Meringues are really, really, really EASY! I am not exaggerating either. If you follow some simple rules they are so simple and quick to do you really won’t believe how good they are for almost no effort. They are a huge crowd pleaser and require only a few ingredients. This recipe is almost foolproof people and I would love it if I could spread the meringue word.
Chewy Meringue Recipe.
I have scoured and scoured meringue recipes in my search for a consistent chewy middle and crisp outside shell. This recipe delivers. I have tried them out at all oven temperatures but 120 C is without doubt the right temperature for the desired results. Any hotter and the crust is too thick and the centre not chewy. For years I have baked them by eye so in order to spread the word I have trialled many variables and realised the importance of the oven temperature. To this end I do recommend that you buy a oven thermometer. I bought mine for £3 so it is not an expensive item. It makes all the difference when baking. My ovens have never been 100 % reliable and quite often are out by 20 C here and there. The thermometer allows you to dial up or down accordingly to get it just right.
The first thing to get underway is the separating of the eggs. I just use my hands to do this. I crack my egg against a hard surface and then break over a mug into my hand. I have two mugs ready along with my mixing bowl. I break the egg into my hand and let the whites run through into an empty mug. I then tip the yolk into the other mug. I then empty the white into the mixing bowl and repeat for the other 2 eggs. This way if you get a broken yolk you don’t contaminate the previously separated whites.
I use a free standing mixer for whisking my meringues. It is simplicity itself because you are hands free. If you are using a hand held electric whisk then it would make things much easier if you enlist some help. The idea is you add a tbsp of the sugar at a time to prevent the meringues leaking when baking. I have my mixer at speed 6 so medium/high speed.
At first you whisk the egg whites alone until they become frothy and white.
This is then followed by another whisk and the addition of the sugar, 1 heaped tbsp at a time. This takes about 2 minutes. Use refined caster sugar. That is the standard white sugar. Unrefined caster sugar will alter the cooking time as well as the whole bake. It’s not that they are not good with unrefined sugar but they won’t be chewy within the time. As the meringue becomes glossy and thick add the cornflour and wine vinegar. Whisk again until it becomes satiny and very thick. If you lift the whisk out it will stay completely in a peak. The peak does not move at all. Think Mr. Whippy.
On a flat baking tray lined with a silicone liner or baking paper dollop out about 8 or 9 meringue shapes. I use a big spoon and my finger but you could use 2 spoons.
Pop these shiny beauties in the oven for exactly an hour. Remove and carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool on a wire rack. They may well have a couple of cracks it’s the nature of the beast.
- Make sure your bowl and whisk are very clean. i.e no grease
- Do not let any yolk get into the whites.
- Make sure to whisk until the mixture is very thick and stiff. If you lift the whisk out the mixture it completely stays in a peak.
- Bake at 120 C for an hour only.
- Use refined caster sugar (standard white sugar)
How To Store Meringues
They do keep rather well stored in an air tight container. At least 1 or 2 days in a cool, dry place. Moisture is their enemy and they will lose their crispness.
Can You Freeze Meringues?
Yes you can. Stored carefully in an air tight container they will freeze well for up to a month. It is important to defrost them out of their container to keep them away from any moisture, so a wire rack is perfect. Just let them come up to room temperature and use as normal. You can freeze raw egg whites too. Simply put them in a freezer bag, plastic container or even in an ice cube tray. If using an ice cube tray when the whites are frozen transfer to a freezer bag or container for long term storage. They will keep for up to a year but it is wise to label them with the date. Defrost in the fridge and remember that freezing does not kill salmonella so the usual rules still apply.
The remaining egg yolks are great for adding richness to everything from pasta to ice cream, custard to breads. I am careful to store them in a particular way. I use clingfilm scrunched up and pushed closely onto the surface of them and then another layer of clingfilm over the container they are in, usually a mug. This way it prevents a tough skin forming on the top.
What to serve with Meringues.
I like to serve Strawberries and a bowl of softly whipped cream. I try hard to watch it as I whip the cream as it can become too firm very quickly. This is especially important if you are serving them as a hand held dessert al fresco for people to use the meringue to scoop out the cream from the bowl.
Another favourite is to whip some melted dark chocolate into the cream. You can make the meringues half the size and then sandwich them together with the chocolate cream and serve some raspberries along side. You could substitute any fruit really. Kiwis work particularly well. I think if you can have a little bit of tartness in the fruit it works very well with the sweetness coming from the meringue.
- Free Standing Mixer or Electric Whisk and Bowl
- 2 mugs
- Large Flat Lined Baking Tray (reusable liner or baking paper)
- Digital Scales
- Oven Thermometer (optional)
These are crisp and chewy Meringues guaranteed to please a crowd. Perfect for easy entertaining and outdoor eating.
- 3 large egg whites
- 200 grams caster sugar
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
Pre heat your oven to 120 C. Separate your 3 egg whites into a clean mixing bowl. Whisk the egg whites until frothy and white.
Add the 200 grams sugar a heaped tbsp at a time. The meringue will start to thicken, whiten and become shiny. Add the 1 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp vinegar and mix again. The whole whisking for the second time takes about 2 minutes in a free standing mixer at speed 6. Whatever you are using when it becomes very thick and shiny it is ready. The whisk should leave a peak when removed that does not move.
Spoon onto a lined baking tray 8-9 individual meringues. Use your spoon to make them look as you want. I like to try and make a peak on the top.
Bake for an hour and remove carefully after a couple of minutes onto a wire rack to fully cool.
Apply to Meringue Moustached Face
All Nutritional Information is a guide only.
Make sure your bowl, whisk and hands are squeaky clean.
Break the eggs into a bowl or mug one by one and empty as you go.
Use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven temperature is accurate.
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Bake Of The Week over at Mummy Mishaps
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