Meringues

October 14, 2018

Meringues

Meringues can look so pretty and you can have a lot of fun making them in different colours and flavours. I love the fact that they are low-FODMAP so this is a treat I can still enjoy. Meringues are also great as part of other deserts such as Eton Mess and birthday cakes.
I have to make two birthday cakes for my twins this week and wanted to make some meringues for decoration. Now that they are a bit older they don't want to share a cake so I need to make two, one for my girl in pink and one for my boy in blue - very typical!
They've seen some incredible cakes on Pinterest and now want me to simply whip up something similar....as you do. I am not particularly good at birthday cakes to begin with so making these three tiered cakes in ombre colours feels daunting to say the least. Let's hope they turn out looking reasonably ok. 

Making meringues can be a bit tricky in the best of circumstances but here in Dubai it's extra hard because of the humidity right now. The meringues often turn out looking fine but once you take them out of the oven and leave them for a bit, they turn sticky. Especially if you've used a food colouring. I've worked out that the best way to keep them crispy is to leave them in the oven for a bit longer on very low heat and then turn of the oven and leave them in there over night. When they've cooled down you take them straight out of the oven and transfer them to an airtight container. You might not live in a humid climate but sometimes a rainy day can have an effect. It's definitely easier to make meringues on a dry day if you have the choice.

There are other challenges involved in making meringues so I've put together some tips on how to improve your chances at making great meringues:

1. Use a large, clean bowel made of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Plastic is not recommended as it can hold traces of oil/fat which can effect your meringues. If your bowl feels a bit oily you can wipe it using some kitchen towel and distilled vinegar. 

2. Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. Having said that, it's easier to separate the egg whites whilst the eggs are cold. A way around this is to take the eggs out of the fridge, crack the eggs on a smooth surface (not an edge) whilst cold and separate the egg whites one by one, making sure there is not egg yolk. I would recommend cracking them individually placing the egg whites into a small bowl and then transferring them into a lager bowel so that if any egg yolk gets mixed in with one, you don't have to throw all the egg whites away. Once you've separated all the egg whites, leave them for 10-15 minutes to reach room temperature.

4. Use the right sugar and add it slowly. The finer the sugar, the easier it will be for the sugar crystals to dissolve when whipped with the egg whites. You can use regular granulated sugar, but I tend to use caster sugar as it dissolves easier and gives your meringue mix that smooth texture you want. When adding the sugar to your egg whites, do it slowly, one tablespoon at the time to make sure the sugar dissolves. This process can take around 10-15 minutes. 

5. Use a stabiliser. If you want your meringues a bit sturdier you can add an acidic ingredient such as white vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar. I find this really helps and I generally choose to use vinegar.

 I hope the tips together with this recipes will help you make absolutely perfect meringues :)

When firm, silky smooth peaks forms, your mix is ready to be piped out

Makes 10-30 meringues

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp White vinegar
  • 180 g Caster sugar
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • food colouring (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 120°C

2. Take the eggs out of the fridge, crack the eggs on a smooth surface (not an edge) and separate the egg whites one by one, making sure there is not egg yolk. Place in a large, clean glass or metal bowel.  Once you've separated all the egg whites, leave them for 10-15 minutes to reach room temperature.

3. Using an electric mixer, stat mixing the egg whites slowly until the egg whites start to bubble, then increase the speed and continue mixing until the egg whites turn fluffy and form soft peaks.

4. Add the vinegar.

5. Keep the mixer on medium speed, then start adding the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at the time to make sure the sugar dissolves. This will take about 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and form stiff peaks

6. Add the the salt and vanilla essence until combined.

7. If you want to add colour to your meringues, add some thin strips of food colouring to your piping bag. You don't need very much so start with just a little bit to see how it turns out. A tip is to keep the piping bad sideways so the colour doesn't run out. If you don;t have a piping bag, you can use a spoon to spoon out the mixture but I wound't recommend using colour in that case.

8. Pipe the meringues onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

9. Bake at 120°C for 50 minutes for small meringues or 60 minutes for larger meringues. If you want them crispy add on 30 minutes before removing. If you are baking meringues on a humid day or in a humid climate, turn the heat down to 50 degrees for another 30 minutes, then turn the oven of, but leave the meringues in the oven until they've cooled. Immediately transfer to an airtight container.
The meringues will last for about 2 weeks in an airtight container
Enjoy!