MERINGUES! Heard of them? Well get ready to fall in love with this British summer dessert!

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MERINGUES! Heard of them? Well get ready to fall in love with this British summer dessert!

Tessa Morton

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This summer, I am excited to once again create a dessert that brings me so much joy. It’s crunchy, chewy, mallow-y and light. It melts in your mouth and wraps your tongue in the perfect amount of sweetness. Paired with fresh whipped cream or ice-cream and your favorite summer fruit, it is the epitome of a warm vacation in a bowl.

For me, this is the perfect dessert to follow any greasy barbeque food, whether it be a ketchup covered hotdog, a burger fit to burst with your favorite toppings, or (my favorite) marinated, barbecued chicken.

This summer, I encourage you to try something new and impress your friends with a dessert that requires almost no ingredients but a whole lot of love. If you can follow the recipe, surrender to the science (or magic) of baking, and keep all these tips in mind, you will be successful and will wow everyone this party season.

Ingredients for Meringues

–      A dash of white vinegar

–      4 large eggs (you will be using just the egg whites)

–      1 tsp cream of tartar (can use lemon juice but it won’t work as well)

–      250 grams (8.82 ounces or 1 cup and 5 tsp) of superfine or caster sugar (See tip below)

–      ½ tsp vanilla extract

–      A pinch of salt

TIP- What is superfine (caster) sugar? Basically, it is sugar made of smaller granules than the regular kind. It is great for use in baking, as it dissolves faster, and is readily used in British recipes. If you have problems with crunchy granules of sugar in your baking, consider grinding up regular sugar in a food processor for 30- 60 seconds, or buying superfine sugar in the store. Be careful not to grind up the granules too small, as that creates confectioners sugar. Superfine is a size somewhere in between.

Ingredients for Serving and Decorating

–      Ice-Cream (less for decorating and more for eating)

–      Heavy cream

–      Confectioners sugar

–      Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries

–      Mint leaves (if you want the meringues to look extra fancy)

Equipment

–      Measuring cups and spoons, or a kitchen scale for measuring weight

–      A stand mixer, or an electric mixer with whisk attachment, or a hand whisk (and pure brute strength)

–      A deep stainless-steel or glass mixing bowl

–      A baking tray

–      Wax paper or baking paper

–      A food processor (if you are grinding your own superfine sugar)

Instructions and Tips

  1.    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2.    Clean all the equipment you will use, bowl and whisk or whisk attachments, with white vinegar on a napkin or paper towel.

TIP-To ensure whipped egg whites achieve maximum volume and remain stable, they must be free from all grease and fat. This is why we use vinegar as a last step to clean our tools.

  1.    Prepare eggs whites with absolutely no yolks.

TIP-The best way to do this is to break each egg white into a small bowl first, and then add it to your large bowl. This means if one egg yolk breaks, you don’t have to throw them all out and start again. Fats from the egg yolk will sabotage your recipe and prevent the egg whites from properly whipping up into beautiful silky clouds of deliciousness.

TIP-For the best results use room temperature eggs. Start by separating the yolks from the whites when cold, then leave the whites to reach room temperature before whipping.

  1.    Add cream of tartar. Acid works as a stabilizing agent (science or magic or something). Acid strengthens the bubbles in whipped eggs so they don’t collapse when baking.
  2.    Start whisking the egg whites in the bowl. Start on a low speed, so the egg whites slowly fluff up. You will see bubbles begin to form. As you get to the “soft peaks” stage you can start to add the sugar

TIP-“No peak” stage is when the eggs are getting foamy and opaque but are still liquid-y. “Soft peak” stage is when you lift the whisk out of the eggs and a “peak” starts to hold for a second but quickly melts back down. “Firm peak” stage is when the peaks hold on the whisk but flop over. “Stiff peak” stage is when the peaks stand up straight to attention and hold their shape.

  1.    Add the superfine sugar slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon.
  2.    As you add the sugar, the mixture will become “glossy.” When all of the sugar is added, turn the speed on the mixer to high. As it expands and becomes glossy, test the mixture by rubbing some between two fingers. If you still feel granules of sugar, the mixture needs to mix more. Careful not to overbeat, as the mixture will collapse and separate. Keep testing until the granules are dissolved, and you achieve “stiff peaks.”
  3.    Add a pinch of salt and the vanilla right before the mixture has been completely beaten. Do not add the vanilla too soon, as it could limit the volume of your meringue.
  4.    Carefully spoon the mixture onto the tray, creating 12 “plum-sized” meringues.
  5.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, leaving the door closed and the meringues inside as it cools for at least one hour. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!
  6.  When the meringues are done, they should be completely cool and come off the paper cleanly. The bottom should be hard and, if you tap it gently, it will sound hollow.

TIP-Handle them carefully. They are very fragile!

DO NOT PANIC.If your meringues come out of the oven with cracks on the top or in weird shapes, you are still on the right track. Meringues are ideal desserts to make for a number of reasons. First, they are meant to be a little ugly, and secondly, you cover up the ugly with cream. In the end, this is a dessert that is all about how it tastes, not how it looks. For the novice baker who doesn’t own icing tips or piping bags, or know what fondant is, or struggles to get cookies all the same size and shape, this is the dessert for you.

Storage

Store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place and only decorate with cream or ice-cream right before you are ready to eat it. Meringues don’t like moisture, so rainy or extremely humid days are not the best for making or eating these, but usually they will survive long enough to still be delicious.

Serving

Make fresh whipped cream by whipping heavy cream using an electric beater and slowly adding spoonful’s of confectioners sugar. Just like making meringues, as the cream whips it will expand, and as the sugar is added it will get thicker and sweeter. When you have achieved the consistency and sweetness you desire, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whip for 10 seconds to combine, and either spoon or pipe your whipped cream on top of your meringues. Add fresh fruit and mint leaves to decorate and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

ENJOY!

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