Meringues

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    12-18

    small , meringues

Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

At Bourke Street Bakery we have found that the Swiss meringue is the best individual soft-centred meringue. The basic recipe we use here is double the weight of sugar to egg whites — the meringue is first warmed in a bain marie to dissolve the sugar before whipping the egg whites to firm peaks. To add a little flavour, it is possible to sift a little unsweetened cocoa powder over the meringue, or use a squeeze bottle (similar to one used for tomato sauce) to squirt squiggles of puréed raspberries, strawberries or any fruit that takes your fancy, just before placing in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 105 g ( oz/about 3) egg whites
  • 210 g ( oz) caster (superfine) sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 130°C (250°F/Gas 1). In a very clean stainless steel bowl stir together the egg white and sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and continue stirring, regularly scraping down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure no sugar crystals form. Once all the sugar has dissolved and you have a smooth, clear, warm liquid, remove from the heat — wipe the bottom of the bowl to ensure no water can come into contact with the mix.

Transfer the warm liquid to the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat for about 10 minutes on high speed, or until the mixture is cool and firm peaks have formed.

Spoon or pipe the meringue into the desired shape directly onto the baking trays lined with baking paper. Lower the oven temperature to 100°C (200°F/Gas ½) and bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and soft in the centre. If you prefer a dry meringue you can cook them for up to 6 hours. The best way to test if the meringue is ready is to break one open — a soft meringue should have a crisp shell and the centre should be set like a marshmallow and warm all the way through when first removed from the oven. The cooking time will vary quite substantially for meringues of different sizes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks. The meringues can be eaten when cool, or stored in airtight container for up to 2–3 days.

Variation

Chocolate meringues are a favourite of many children and adults alike. At Bourke Street Bakery we only bake them if we can fit them into the schedule, or if we have egg whites left-over from another dish — often we go six months between bakes and the protests are quite loud and continuous at these times.

Once you have prepared the meringue mixture above, sift 100 g ( oz) unsweetened cocoa powder into a large bowl. Using a large serving spoon, scoop out meringues a little larger than a tennis ball and drop into the cocoa. Working with one ball at a time, swill the bowl to make the meringue roll like a ball and completely coat it with cocoa. Gently lift the meringue out and place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining meringue to make up to six in total. Gently dig the tips of your fingers into the meringue and drag them upwards, creating streaks of white and chocolate meringue. Bake at 100°C (200°F/Gas ½) for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and soft in the centre.