Who’d have thought that a crisp, airy confection of beaten egg white and sugar could be so … seductive?
If you have never beaten a splash of granulated sugar into stiff egg whites, you have never lived.
The result is a smooth, creamy meringue that can be used to ice cakes, pastries and if you had to substitue the sugar with hot sugar syrup, make a stable butter-cream icing that can also be used in soufflés.
- Smaller meringues are easier to make than bigger ones. Bigger ones tend to be softer on the inside because the heat takes longer to reach the centre.
- Meringues are always cooked slowly, so, in effect, the mixture dries out rather than bakes.
- Leaving meringues to cool in an open oven can prevent cracking. • Unfilled meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
- Meringue can be flavoured with caraway seeds, cinnamon, ginger, instant coffee powder, vanilla pod, chilli flakes and nuts such as shaved almonds, ground hazelnuts or macadamia nuts.
- Melted white or dark chocolate, or caramel, can be poured over meringue or used as a filling.
BASIC MERINGUE RECIPE
- 2 egg whites
- 5ml lemon juice
- 170ml caster sugar
- 10ml icing sugar
- 45ml cornflour
- Extra icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 120C. Combine the egg whites and lemon juice in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed, gradually adding the caster sugar, then whisk until dissolved, about 10 to 15 minutes. Fold the sifted icing sugar through. Lightly grease oven trays, lightly grease with butter and dust with sifted cornflour.
Place the meringue mixture into a piping bag with the desired tube, and pipe small or large rounds, or any desired shape. Bake until crisp. For petite meringues this will be about 40 minutes and for larger, thicker shapes about 60 to 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to cool. Sandwich the meringues together with ice cream or cream, or serve dusted with icing sugar.
COCONUT-FLAVOURED MERINGUE WITH FRESH BLACKBERRIES AND COCONUT CREAM
Follow the basic meringue recipe. At the end, fold 45ml of coconut powder with the icing sugar. Place half the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a medium tube. Add 5ml of red and 5ml of blue food colouring to the remaining mixture to make a lilac meringue mixture.
Fill the bag with the remaining lilac mixture. Pipe 6cm rounds onto trays. The first meringues will be white, then lilac and white combined and the last ones lilac.
To make the filling: Whip 250ml whipping cream with 125ml caster sugar and 5ml coconut powder, until firm. Sandwich together the meringues with coconut cream and fresh blueberries.
Cook’s tip: Coconut powder is available at specialist delis or Thai food stores.
VANILLA MERINGUE WITH FRESH BERRIES AND FROZEN YOGHURT
For the filling:
- 175ml vanilla frozen yoghurt
- 175ml Cape fruits frozen yoghurt
- 175ml English toffee frozen yoghurt
- 400g fresh blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries, cherries and cranberries
Use the basic meringue recipe, but fold in 5ml of vanilla essence at the end of the whisking process. Pipe 2 large circles of meringue. Although larger meringues tend to break easily, serving them a little broken does not detract from their deliciousness.
Place the bottom round of meringue on a flat platter. Carefully smear with slightly defrosted frozen yoghurt. Top with fresh berries and cover with the remaining meringue circle or pieces. Serve immediately.
PETITE MERINGUES WITH FROZEN YOGHURT SERVED IN FROZEN MELON
Follow the basic meringue recipe.
Pipe 2cm rounds and bake as per basic recipe. Slice a melon in half, remove the pips and freeze until frozen. Sandwich the meringues together with blackberry frozen yoghurt.
Remove the melon sides from the freezer and fill with balls of blackberry frozen yoghurt. The frozen melon will prevent the yoghurt from melting immediately.
Top with filled petite meringues and serve immediately.
TRY A FEW OF OUR MERINGUE RECIPES:
Macarons (some call them macaroons) are beautiful little meringue creations. Follow our step by step instructions to perfect them at home.