Meringues are so simple to make yourself and are a great way to use any egg whites you’ve got leftover from making a custard or something which uses just egg yolks. You can be incredibly playful with meringues, they are a blank canvas and can be piped, shaped and decorated in any way you want to suit whatever occasion you’re baking them for.
I made 2 kinds of meringues. Firstly there are striped meringues and secondly there are polka dot meringues. I finally got round to blogging these after a spotty theme for Sunday Baking Club a few months back! I managed to also find a spotty piece of material which really added to the theme!
The trick to meringue is simple and just involves an electric whisk. Feel free to attempt whisking by hand although I think you’ll be there for a while! I think using an electric hand whisk is best for meringues; here are some advantages and disadvantages to each kind of mixer:
- Stand mixers mean they take hardly any effort at all, you can add the sugar without having to stop the mixer. However you do have to stop and scrape down the sides every so often and you don’t have any control of the meringue, so you don’t know how it feels. The risk of overwhisking is higher.
- Electric hand whisk are the most common and are a great way to whisk up the meringue easily. You have to stand there yourself and move it around for about 6/7 minutes but that’s not too much of an inconvenience. Again you have to scrape down the bowl but adding the sugar can be slightly harder here but you can feel the meringue mixture and so the risk of overwhisking is lower but you could still overwhisk in the first instance.
- Hand whisks are the surefire way to guarantee that you will not overwhisk the meringue. Obviously it is a lot of effort to whisk up a large amount of egg whites but it is the safest method for small batches of meringue. For this reason, you are likely to not fully incorporate the sugar by hand.
1 tsp lemon juice
3 egg whites
240g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food colouring pastes
Sprinkles; I got mine from Mamy Sugarcraft
Preheat the oven to 140°C. Cut out a sheet of baking parchment to fit your baking tray.
Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl and use kitchen paper to rub it around the bowl. Use a metal bowl since plastic bowls tend to retain a film of grease that can prevent your meringues from whisking up to full volume.
Add the egg whites and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Then add the sugar gradually and continue to whip until the meringue looks shiny, adding in the vanilla extract near the end. Test the meringue by lifting out the whisk and the meringue should only just flop over on the whisk. Dab the whisk onto the baking tray and stick down the parchment using the mixture.
For the striped meringues:
Paint 4 vertical lines of your gel food colouring paste (if you are using) into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Carefully transfer the meringue into the piping bag, trying not to distort the stripes. A friend to hold the bag completely open would be useful. Twist the top to prevent any mixture spilling out.
Apply pressure on the bag to form a strong star shape. Avoid pushing down when you are done and do not hold the piping bag too close to the tray. Keep the bag vertical and continue until you have used up the mixture.
The first meringue will have no colour at all, this is normal. Put some sprinkles over each meringue randomly.
For the polka dot meringues:
Put the meringue mixture into the piping bag and cut off about a 1cm hole off the end. Apply pressure firmly to create a mound of mixture and then press down and repeat to get a snowman effect, by which I mean a smaller amount of mixture on top of a larger mound. Don’t press the bag down at the top, pull it away to create a nice peak. Put some sprinkles over the meringues.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until you can lift the meringues off the tray without sticking and the outside has crisped up completely. The striped meringues should still be a vibrant colour whilst the polka dot meringues turn a light ivory colour. Cool the meringues on the tray fully before storing in an airtight container.