Meringues really are one of the easiest desserts to make and are so versatile. They will keep in an airtight container for weeks and are great with such a wide variety of toppings, from fresh berries, to chocolate and chopped nuts and stewed fruits.
I hadn’t realised until doing a little bit of research before baking, that there are actually three varieties of Meringues. There is a French method, which is the method best known to most: when caster sugar is beaten into egg whites. But there are also Italian and Swiss versions. The Italian version substitutes boiling sugar syrup for the caster sugar. While the Swiss meringue is whisked over a saucepan of boiling water to warm the egg whites, then whisked as it cools to form a glossy texture. This however is the French method.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 pinches salt
- 300 g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pink or blue food colouring
Firstly, we need to preheat the oven to 140C. Then line two baking trays with parchment paper. Take a large spotlessly clean bowl and add egg whites with a pinch of salt. Whisk the mixture until it forms soft peaks. At this stage you can begin to gradually add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk well between each addition to ensure the sugar is incorporated into the mixture. You should end up with a meringue that is glossy in appearance and forms stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.
Fold in the vanilla extract with a large metal spoon. Using a piping bag fitted, pipe the mixture onto the baking trays. I made mini meringues this time, as I find them easier to keep.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Test one by lifting and gently pressing on the base of a meringue – it should be crisp but give way with a bit of pressure – they will crisp more when cooling. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar for best results. If possible, let them cool completely in the oven.
These were delicious with some of my Lemon Curd and a dollop of freshly whipped cream….