Making meringues? Do you have difficulty distinguishing between soft peaks and firm peaks? Well not to worry, this covers the whole process from beginning to end, from raw egg whites magically changing into fluffy, silky meringues.
Meringue is simply egg whites whipped with sugar. Air is quickly whipped into the egg whites, which makes them cloud up to as much as eight times in volume. When sugar is added it not only adds sweetness but also helps to stabilise the egg whites, to ensure the whites do not collapse as quickly.
Here are some basic tips to meringue phases, all within 10 minutes of whipping.
Soft Peaks: Once all the sugar has been added the whites will just start to hold their shape but will continue to slump over back into themselves.
Firm Peaks: After a vigorous whisk, the whites will hold their shapes, forming nice soft peaks with tips that fold back onto themselves.
Stiff Peaks: At this stage, the whites should stand up straight all shiny, smooth and glossy with a silky sheen. The meringue should be easy enough to pipe and hold its shape.
This is the simplest of meringue recipes. This delightful recipe produces perfect wispy clouds which are crunchy, chewy and delicately soft all at the same time. I honestly can’t get enough of them and the endless possibilities of delicious flavours.
Makes: 5 large meringues
3 large egg whites
6 tablespoons vanilla sugar
65 grams icing sugar
½ teaspoon violet concentrate/ extract
½ teaspoon toffee concentrate/ extract
Firstly, pre-heat the oven to 90°C/ 200°F/ Gas Mark 1/4 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the three egg whites and vanilla sugar in a large mixing bowl (if possible of an electric mixer) if not any large bowl is fine.
Whisk on medium-high speed until white and foamy for about 1 minute. Gradually add vanilla sugar in 3 additions beating for 2 minutes between each addition.
Continue to whisk for a further 2 minutes and add the icing sugar and whisk for 5 minutes until the meringue resembles a light, fluffy and voluminous texture.
Split the mixture in half and add the violet extract to one half and whisk until the meringue mixture turns lavender in colour with soft peaks. Repeat the same with the toffee extract until the mixture resembles a caramel in colour.
Using a large ice-cream scoop, dollop the mixture onto the greaseproof paper-lined tray. With your finger or a small spatula, make the meringues smooth around the edges, still leaving it a little swirly.
Bake the meringues for about 3-3 ½ hours until dry. Turn the oven off and allow to completely cool in the oven, for about 1-2 hours (meringues will crisp as they cool) and enjoy.