Monday, 9 April 2012

HOW TO: French Meringue

My current status is ¬O where 'O' is a variable for 'oven'. That's a silly logic joke. Anyway, my parents freaked out about our 20+ year old gas oven and threw it onto the terrace. I'll bake a batch of meringues and include photos as soon as we have our new oven fixed in. In the meantime, I thought that this post might be helpful.

Basic meringues are made from egg whites and sugar; two staples in everybody's cupboards. Meringues are quick and easy to prepare when keeping a few simple steps in mind. As with many other things, practice makes perfect - yet knowing what to avoid can always help to speed up the process! 

  • 2 tbsp fine sugar to every egg white
This provides a basic, light canvas.
These will be bright white in colour.

Some ideas should you prefer something other than a plain or basic meringue:
  • Fold in cocoa 
  • Fold in cinnamon
  • Fold in a little coffee or espresso powder 
  • Add a few drops of food colouring to create pastel coloured meringues  
  • Combine any sort of extract; vanilla, lemon, lime, mint
  • Fold in crushed nuts (my favourite would have to be pistachios) 
  • Create a 'marbled' effect with a little jam or chocolate
Be careful: 
i) to add very little liquid so as not to alter the consistency of your meringues 
ii) not to add anything too heavy or the meringue will collapse 

Top a meringue base with whipped cream and add your favourite fruit to make a pavlova. You could also try to create small 'nests' and fill them with anything (within reason!) E.g. Greek yoghurt, honey and strawberries? 

  1. Whip egg whites using a medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Using a higher speed, add one tablespoonful of sugar at a time - and whisk until the meringue forms firm peaks. The meringue should be completely opaque and glossy. In order to be absolutely certain that you have whisked the meringue enough, hold the bowl high over your head. The mixture is ready should none fall out. 
  3. Drop spoonfuls (or pipe) onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Bake on a low heat setting (100 °C) for around 2 hours, until the meringues are crisp. 
  5. Leave inside your oven to dry out overnight  (unless you like chewy centers).  
  • In meringue-land,  moisture is equivalent to disaster - so do avoid making them on humid days. 
  • Eggs must be room temperature. 
  • Older eggs seem to whip up better.
  • Separate egg whites into a separate bowl - one by one.
  • Any trace of fat will stop your egg whites from whipping up nicely. If a small drop of yolk falls into the bowl, put the whole egg aside and use it for something else. If a little bit of egg shell falls into the bowl, pick this up using a larger piece of egg shell. Do not attempt to use your hands as oil from your fingers may ruin the egg whites 'whipability'. 
  • Whisk your meringue in a clean and dry glass or stainless steel bowl. Avoid plastic.

* Meringues will keep for up to two weeks if stored properly in airtight tins.  

** Given that egg whites are predominantly water and protein, meringues are perfect for friends or family members who are monitoring their cholesterol levels (as long as they couldn't be bothered about sugar content). 

No comments:

Post a Comment