Right. I am really sorry I have not posted for a few days. There is, however, a reason for this.
I have spent the past few days conquering my own personal Everest, my Bête noir – these meringues.
As Alex’s mother will tell you, this is my fifth attempt at making these – I really wanted the recipe to be perfect, and it took quite a lot of whisking to get there! Inspired by Comptoir Gourmand’s beautiful meringues, the recipe has finally been perfected and here I am, presenting it to you.
What you’ll need: (makes approximately 6 large meringues)
3 large fresh egg whites (OR three tablespoons of Two Chicks Liquid Free-Range Egg White. This excellent, pure egg white in a cardboard container can be bought from Waitrose, and it is fantastic when making large quantities of things such as meringues, as you don’t end up having to find ways to use up lots of egg yolks).
A pinch of salt
175 grams caster sugar
Natural red food colouring* (such as India Tree’s excellent Natural Food Colourants)
Edible Glitter (optional)
A whisk – preferably an electric one unless you have very big arm muscles
A large, clean bowl
A baking sheet, lined with silicon paper or greaseproof paper
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c. (If using an Aga, they will go into the warming oven.)
Break your egg whites into your mixing bowl, and add the pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly until they have formed lovely stiff peaks – you ought to be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out. As ever, when you think they are done, give them an extra minute!
When you are satisfied that they are stiff enough, whisk in the sugar, half at a time, and whisk until the mixture is very stiff and glossy.
Now, drop tablespoon-size blobs of the meringue onto your lined baking sheet, making sure that there is a few inches gap between each blob of meringue.
Once you have used up all your mixture, it’s time to swirl!
Take a toothpick or cocktail stick. Dip it lightly into the food colouring, and repeatedly poke holes into the meringue with your food-colouring-covered cocktail stick, refreshing each time.
It will look like this:
Now, once this is done, hold the meringue in place with a tablespoon and, using the cocktail stick, lightly and carefully swirl the food colouring into the meringue mixture, creating a gorgeous ripple effect.
Try to get the cocktail stick right into the meringue, so that the ripples run right through the body of it, and don’t just sit on the surface!
When you are happy with your shape and ripples, repeat with the next blog of meringue, until you have completed the whole tray.
Now, pop the tray into the oven, immediately turn it down to 140 degrees celsius (this is a trick I learned from Delia if not using an Aga, and is very good) and leave for exactly an hour, two hours if using the warming oven of an Aga.
If using an Aga, take them out after two hours. If using a normal oven, after an hour, turn the oven off but leave the meringues in there to cool for half an hour if you can; this will ensure that they dry out thoroughly, giving the best texture.
Remove from the baking sheet, ready to serve! I like to sprinkle a little edible glitter over mine because I think it looks gorgeous, but this is entirely up to you.
To serve, simply place the meringue in a bowl and serve with a handful of fresh raspberries and a dash of single cream. Just beautiful.
See you tomorrow.
Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!
*Note: I initially really wanted to make these with fresh raspberry swirls. I tried every variation I could, but every single version came out of the oven with brown swirls, from the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit, so I had to give up and use food colouring.
However, it really makes no different to the flavour, and as you can see, brown meringues are not quite so beautiful!