Put the egg white in a scrupulously clean bowl – any film of grease will prevent it attaining its full volume. Sprinkle on a tablespoon of sugar and begin whisking. When the egg white is foamy and increased in volume, add half the remaining sugar and continue whisking. The meringue will begin to take shape, becoming glossy and with smaller bubbles. Continue whisking until you have added all the sugar and the meringue is now a firm mass of glossy foam, with tiny bubbles. When you trail the whisk through it the mixture will peak and hold its shape.
Line a baking shet with non-stick baking parchment or a special baking mat. Spoon or pipe the meringue into four nests or baskets, with a depression in the middle. Bake, or rather, dry, in a preheated oven at 125-150°C/300°F/ gas mark 1-2 for about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin until required.
Quantities can be increased by simple multiplication. For filled meringues, pipe or spoon into heaps on the baking shet, and when cooked and cooled, sandwich with whipped cream. Ivory-coloured meringues can be achieved by using light muscovado sugar. A little cocoa powder can be whisked in with the final addition of sugar to make chocolate meringues. Fill them with coffee- or chocolate-flavoured cream.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.