Crafty Cooking: Meringues

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • greaseproof paper

I’m sure you all agree that last week’s pumpkin pie was pretty spectacular. The only problem? Leftover egg whites. I have a little Chinese mother who, with the aid of a thousand proverbs, has conditioned me since birth to hate waste. That’s not to say I don’t waste. I do. I just wince every time I have to throw away food. However, in this case, we’re in luck: eggwhites + sugar = meringues. There’s a common misconception that meringues are incredibly difficult to make. They’re not. But let’s not tell anyone so I can continue to impress with my casual meringue baking skills.

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. There’s a ratio of 1 egg white: 50g caster sugar. I tend to make 3 pumpkin pies at a time (don’t judge, they just taste so good), thus this is a 3 egg recipe. Feel free to re-proportion. There’s a certain knack to splitting eggs which my college wife taught me: crack the egg and pass the yolk between the two egg shell halves, trying not to let the yolk break. Have a cup underneath to catch the egg white which will dribble between.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl. While you might be used to using a fork for whisking try and get hold of a hand or electric whisk because you’re going to be whisking for a while. You want to create as much volume as possible until they create, in cookbook language, stiff peaks. In real person speak you want them to be whisked till it looks like bubbly, lathered shampoo which you can style in weird shapes. Gradually add the sugar and other ingredients and continue to whisk until it has the texture of a heavy and smooth mousse. Pull it in weird directions and see if it can keep its shape.

Cover a baking tray in greaseproof paper. Spoon the mixture into little mounds across it, but leave room for them to expand. If you’re feeling artistic try shaping them. Dump them in oven, bake for an hour, then enjoy! And, if meringues aren’t fancy enough for you, try covering them in cream and fruit to make a pavlova.

[Photo: joerandazzo.com]