For as long as I can remember, my favourite dessert has been pavlova but, for some reason I have always thought meringue is beyond me. This summer I was determined to fix that, especially since I am fed-up with throwing away the egg whites I keep hopefully saving then discovering, too late, at the back of the fridge. And this, well this really is one of the best things I have learnt to make this year.
Inspired by the gift of a jar of salted caramel sauce from Brittany (thanks, Tony and Rachel!), a Donna Hay recipe, and a perfect, foolproof technique from the young genius that is Martha Collison (the youngest ever contender on Great British Bake-Off), I have made these three times and I swear everyone loves them, has seconds and asks for the recipe.
Meringues are, as far as I am concerned, supposed to be chewy not crunchy and this recipe makes them just that. I got the idea from Donna Hay but I used the unimpeachable Collison technique, mainly because in one short recipe in her new book, unlike most other people’s recipes, she sums up the three key things you need to remember to make them work: however much your egg whites weigh (e.g. 100g) add double that weight in sugar; warm the sugar for a few minutes before you start; the meringues are done when you can peel them off the baking parchment.
Serve them as they are, with fresh raspberries and whipped cream or, as I have also just discovered, with chocolate semifreddo…a really brilliant way to round off the last days of summer.
Makes a good few, depending on the size of the spoonfuls you put on your trays
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
caster sugar, about 200g, depending on the weight of the egg whites (see below)
egg whites, 4 (about 100ml) (or, as per the rule above, weigh them then double the sugar; so if they make 79ml, then add 158g of sugar instead of 200g)
white vinegar, 1 tsp
sea salt flakes, a few
dulce de leche/salted caramel sauce, about 2 tbsp
raspberries and cream, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan-assisted/gas 2.
2. Weigh your egg whites then weigh out exactly double that in caster sugar.
3. Put the sugar onto a baking sheet, then warm it in the oven for about five minutes.
4. Whisk the egg whites on a high speed in a food mixer until they form stiff peaks.
5. When the egg whites are stiff, add the warm sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk. Whisk in each addition thoroughly before adding more sugar.
6. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk the egg whites for another 6 minutes until stiff and glossy.
7. Whilst the egg whites are whisking for the second time, line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
8. Add the vinegar to the egg whites and whisk for a further 2 minutes.
9. Put tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the sheets, flattening each spoonful a little to form a rough circle, leaving enough room for the meringues to double in size.
10. Swirl a teaspoon of caramel sauce into the top of each meringue, spreading it out as evenly as you can, then sprinkle each one with a few sea salt flakes.
11. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until they peel off easily from the baking parchment.
12. Once cooked, peel off the parchment and leave to cool on a wire rack. Any leftovers will keep for a week or two in an airtight tin.