Meringues are such pretty things. Smooth, white, glossy, almost cloud-like and ethereal and they can come in all shapes and sizes – Petite kisses-shaped ones look gorgeous beside a shot of espresso; even the cute blob is a beautiful mess in its own right, with its natural curves and swirls.
I like having meringues on its own on a hot, summery afternoon.
I like them better with a cup of strong black tea or coffee.
I like them most when they are crushed beneath layers of sliced strawberries and whipped cream – for the Eton Mess reminds me of summer vacations and girls in bright and flowery chiffon dresses.
You can whip up some meringues with just two ingredients- egg whites and sugar. Perfect way of using up leftover egg whites after making a batch of crème patisserie, ice-cream, or kueh lapis.
I have tried making meringues using the French and the Swiss method. For once, I’m not going with the French on this one. Yay for the Swiss method! By heating the sugar with the whites, the meringues have a firmer and more stable structure which works better in humid Singapore.
I’ve kept my unfinished meringues in a air-tight glass jar. They do make my kitchen shelf look a lot prettier. I doubt it will for long though.
Aside from dreaming about those cloud-like meringues, it’s time to ponder what I should do with my leftover egg yolks...
Makes 20 small meringues (6 cm in diameter)
120g egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)
240g caster sugar (superfine sugar, do not use coarse sugar for meringues)
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
(Swiss Meringue method)
1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celcius. (I use a fan-forced oven for this to ensure there is even heating but you can use a convection oven.)
2. Whisk together egg whites and sugar in a very clean stainless steel bowl. I use hot water to rinse it through to remove any grease and wiping it dry. Place bowl over a bain marie and whisk together whites and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. You will get a smooth, warm and slightly cloudy liquid. Remove from heat.
2. Transfer the warm mixture into a clean bowl of a electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat for about 10 minutes on high speed until you achieve glossy white mixture with firm peaks. Firm peaks are reached when you you see straight peaks when you lift up the whisk attachment and it does not droop back into the bowl.
3. Spoon the ready meringue mixture onto a baking sheet (you can pipe them out if you like). Sift unsweetened cocoa powder over the meringues just before baking.
4. Lower the oven temperature to 100 degrees celcius and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes until crisp and dry. If you like your meringues crisp on the outside and still chewy on the inside, cut the baking time and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
1. Add a few drops of rose water and pink food colouring just before baking for a rose flavoured meringue.
2. Sprinkle some chopped pistachios/hazelnuts over the meringues.
*The easiest way to separate the egg whites from the yolks when it is just out of the refrigerator. Be very careful not to allow any yolk or shell to enter the whites as this will prevent the meringues from being whipped to its full volume.
*To make meringues, we need to use a low temperature to dry them out completely . They should remain white after baking. If they start to brown, it means that your oven is too hot and the sugar in the meringue has started to caramelise!
*Meringues hate moisture and humidity. Try to work quickly and bake the meringues as soon as they are whipped and not leave them out in the kitchen. (especially in humid Singapore) Store the baked meringues in a air-tight container in a cool and dry place once it has cooled completely.