28 July 2011

Foolproof Meringue Recipe – with lots of variations

Not that I am suggesting any of my readers are fools, of course, but just in case you happen to know one …



Summer Berry Mess

~  Menu  ~

Penne Pasta “avec les restes” (again)
Bit of red wine
A personal Eton Mess
Coffee

For details of the pasta dish please click on this link because I have eaten this before, you know, and I don’t blame me.  

This morning I found I had a few broken meringues and also, lucky or what!, a few strawberries that needed using up so, obviously, I made myself a private portion of Eton Mess.  No need for a recipe, it’s just crushed meringue, whipped cream and strawberries folded together.  What I am going to do, however, is give an easy, fail-proof meringue recipe. 


Simple Fail-proof Meringues ~ makes about twelve two inch meringue

Maybe I am tempting fate calling this recipe “fail-proof” but it has always worked for me and for everyone I have given it to.   However here are just a few of pointers to make sure it really works .…

1.      For some reason older egg whites are more successfully whisked than newer ones and room temperature whites work better than cold so get them out of the fridge, if they are in there, an hour or two before using. 
2.      It is Absolutely Imperative that nothing greasy touches the egg whites.  Make sure that your bowl, whisk, hands etc. are completely grease-free.  Also, when separating the whites from the yolks ensure that no yolk at all, at all is left in the whites – yolks are greasy. 
3.      Whisk the whites till very thick, in fact the classic test is if you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue doesn’t move it’s ready.  I wouldn’t try this unless you are fairly confident.
  
2 egg whites
12 oz caster sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla essence
3 tablespoons boiling water
                                                                               
~   Preheat the oven to 110˚C/gas 1⁄4
~   Have ready one or two large baking trays lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
~   Put the egg whites, sugar and pure vanilla extract into a large dry grease-free bowl.
Add the boiling water and absolutely immediately whisk everything together (using grease-free whisks) till it is very thick and stands in stiff peaks when you lift out the whisk.
~   Pipe or spoon the meringue into small (about 3 cm) dollops, 2 or 3 cm apart, onto the trays (or make a single big meringue or whatever you like).
~   Bake for about 90 minutes till the meringues are crisp and dry.
~   Gently lift the meringues onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
~   Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

As if this wasn’t enough there are a few ways to vary this simple recipe, they are …

Squidgy Meringues

These have a soft marshmallowey interior, excellent for Pavolva, for instance.  All you need to do is, when the meringue is stiff, sprinkle over ½ tsp of white vinegar and 1 tsp cornflour (ie. cornstarch – not the yellow cornmeal) and fold in.  I imagine some sort of chemical reaction takes place to cause a soft middle.

Brown Sugar Meringues

A great variation is to use brown sugar in the recipe – replace half the caster sugar with soft dark brown sugar and the meringues will have slightly toffee-ish taste.  These used to be very popular in out restaurant in Cornwall where we served them with homemade clotted cream from the farm up the road.

Coffee Meringues

Dissolve four teaspoons of instant coffee granules in the hot water before adding to the egg whites or use 3 tablespoons of double strength freshly brewed coffee.  For a more intense effect and a spotty look also fold in a tablespoons of ground coffee.  Of course these are great filled with brandied whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Pink Peppercorn Meringues

These are very pretty and mildly spicy, they go well with strawberries.  A word of warning, however; pink peppercorns are banned in the USA because, I think, they are believed to cause piles (or irritation of mucous membranes as I believe it is called)!  If you are OK in the botty department just fold in a scant tbsp of crushed pink peppercorns once the whites are thick.

Coloured  Meringues

Just add a little food colouring, of course!  Here is a picture of some dark purple meringues I made and which I folded into homemade blueberry ice cream.


Use your Imagination

Fold in nuts (fairly finely chopped), grated chocolate, coconut (see here for a way to improve on desiccated coconut), different flavourings instead of vanilla, um … orange zest etc.

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In Other News ...

~   I have started a Facebook group called … Sudden Lunch (quelle surprise) – please feel free to join it in fact, sod that – just join it willya! Just email me at SuddenLunch@groups.facebook.com and be updated whenever (if ever) I do anything interesting.

~    Yesterday morning on the bus (I know!) I saw a young lady very heavily made up, very haggard, scantily dressed, tattooed and wobbling about on high heels.  She was swigging from a bottle of vodka.  I can only assume this was a one-woman tribute to Amy Winehouse. 
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