It’s not difficult to make meringues but there are a few golden rules.
Meringue forms the basis of many classic desserts. From simple meringue shells sandwiched together with cream and fruit through to pavlova, lemon meringue pie, baked Alaska and floating islands (soft poached meringues on vanilla custard), they are all made using the same basic mixture from just egg whites and caster sugar.
It’s not difficult to make meringues but there are a few golden rules. Firstly, when separating the eggs make sure there is no trace of yolk in the egg white. If there is you’ll never get the egg white to whisk until thick and foamy. The same goes for the bowl and whisk, they must be spotlessly clean and dry with no trace of fat as this will also prevent the egg white whisking. To make sure, you can rub a cut lemon over the bowl and whisk and then dry with kitchen paper. The egg whites should also be at room temperature, if used straight from the fridge the volume of finished meringue will be less.
Use 50g caster sugar to each medium egg white. You can use half caster sugar and half light muscovado for a toffee flavour which is delicious but the texture will be chewier. When whisking in the sugar add it just 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk really well in between each addition. This will result in a thick glossy meringue.
Cook meringues in a really low oven to keep them white. If you like them soft inside remove them from the oven after the cooking time, for a crisper texture leave them to cool and dry out in the turned off oven.
Line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Set the oven to 100°C/ Fan 80°C/ Gas Mark ½. Place 2 egg whites in a large clean grease-free bowl.
With a whisk or electric whisk, whisk very gently until the eggs create a good foam. When the egg whites are getting thick and foamy increase the speed of whisking until the egg white forms a stiff peak when the whisk is lifted.
Add 100g Caster sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking well in between each addition until the meringue is thick, smooth and glossy.
Place large tablespoonfuls of meringue onto a baking tray, or place the mixture in a large piping bag and pipe into nests or shapes onto the tray. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour until crisp and dry, they should peel away form the baking parchment easily.
Once cooled the meringues will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Serve with fresh fruit and cream.