Ted spotted a rather yummy looking dessert in today’s Observer Food Monthly that would work well with some redcurrants and blackcurrants that we picked up yesterday. I’m not going to give much more away about it just yet as we’ll save it for tomorrow’s post, but what I will tell you is that it involves meringue.
I love meringue! I realise there isn’t really much to it but the crispy, crumbly outside and the sweet soft gooey inside really does it for me. I’ve wanted to try making meringues for ages now, but have never really had reason to (I’m one of those people who loves to make sweet things, but will then eat it all – this means moderation on the making side is key).
I’m sure everyone has their own recipe for meringue and their own tips and tricks for making it just perfect – I opted for a simple-looking meringue recipe from Waitrose. I halved all the quantities to produce four, rather than eight, meringues.
I’ve always heard about how important it is that everything’s very clean and dry when whisking egg whites so I went into OCD-mode and rewashed and dried everything I’d be using – large pyrex bowl, egg separator, balloon whisk, electric whisk heads and ramekin.
First things first, separating the eggs. I’d decided to get each white into a ramekin first just in case one went wrong and ruined the other. I messed up the first egg by bursting the yolk and in a mini-rage threw the whole thing away which, in hindsight, was a little unneccesary. The next two worked okay though – we now have two yolks in the fridge, any ideas on what to do with them? I added the cream of tartare (anything to make a difficult recipe less unpredictable is fine by me) and then started whisking with the balloon whisk until the whites were bubbling, I then got stuck in with the electric whisk (I don’t know if the balloon whisk was necessary, but I was concerned by the recipe’s “start whisking on low” instruction). After a few minutes, the whites were starting to form little peaks.
Next, I added the sugar. The recipe said 3 tbsps at a time, but as I was halving all quantities I thought 1.5 tbsps would be safer. As the sugar’s going in, you really start to feel the mixture getting stiffer and the whisk working harder. It also gets a beautiful gloss to it and after a further few minutes of whisking it was ready (Rob wanted me to hold it upsidedown over my head, but I didn’t trust it enough so just did it over the floor – nothing fell out, phew!).
I then stuck down the baking parchment with a little mixture, as directed, before spooning on four mounds of wonderful goo, before popping them in the preheated oven (and helping myself to the bits of mixture left on the utensils!).
Everything had gone really well up til this point. I set the timer for 45 minutes, but had a niggling feeling that the oven just seemed too hot. I wish I’d gone with my instincts and checked the temperature with the thermometer as 45 minutes later, my meringues were looking decidedly beige and were smelling more like honeycomb than meringue.
Rob and I tried one of the meringues after they’d had their extra 30 minutes in the open oven. I think it had definitely been too hot as the bottoms were a bit burnt, but the gooey middle was actually too gooey and felt a little under done. Not too bad for a first attempt, but disappointing nonetheless. I’ll definitely try this again, but will be checking the oven and following my gut feeling a little more in the baking process.
Come back tomorrow to see what we’re going to do with them!