Wednesday, 16 March 2011

how to make the perfect meringues!

 Well, it's been a little longer than I would have liked since my last blog but I've been really busy making Red Nose Day shortbreads for Comic Relief! I'll be posting how I got on in a few days!
Right, meringues......they're a really simple, classic sweet that can very easily go wrong. I thought I'd do a step by step guide on how to make them, finishing with a yummy meringue that is crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside, topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberries.

Firstly, make sure that your eggs are not straight out of the fridge (room temp eggs are the best for baking, they whip up much better!). Also make make sure that your mixing bowl and whisk are really clean, the best thing to do is wipe a little lemon juice or vinegar on them and this will get rid of any grease that may be lurking as this will stop your eggs whipping up.
I always add half of my sugar in with my whites and start whisking and when peaks start to form, while it's whisking gradually add the rest of the sugar and continue whisking until nice stiff peaks form and u can tip the bowl upside down without the meringe falling! whilst whisking you can add a few drops of vinegar into the mix if you like as this can help in keeping your meringues soft in the middle when baking (I don't do this but it is a fail safe if you're not used to making them) also a few drops of vanilla make the finished product just that bit nicer if added at this stage.
Next, piping out the meringues. A fab tip is to have a bowl of hot water with a round cutter in, when piping onto greaseproof paper, if you fill the cutter with the meringe, as it's been dipped in the hot water it will lift off your piped meringue leaving the perfect shape!
Make sure that your oven is preheated to 150C as you want your meringues to crisp on the outside quickly and as soon as you put them in the oven turn it down to about 110C so that they bake without colour (if they start to colour lower the temp a little and put them on a lower shelf)
Before you place them in the oven my top tip is to dust them with icing sugar, I find this also helps to crisp the outside and dry them out.
Now to test that they are ready. (remember this is not a recipe for the meringue that you will buy in the shops which is dried out all the way through......this is a pavlova style meringue which I think is so much more tastey) Try to peel a meringue off the paper, if it comes cleanly away it's perfectly cooked, if it's stil stuck to the paper give them another 5-10mins and check again.
Once out the oven and cooled, if you're not going to use them in the next couple of days keep them in an airtight container so that the centres don't dry out. If you're ready to use them, you can decorate them as above or why not try homemade brownbread icecream on top and draped with hot toffee sauce!!!!

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