My recipe is easy; no faff, no science, and the results are awesome. Be sure to read the tips in the footnotes, and you’ll be fine!
Makes: 24 free-form French meringues
- 4 large eggs at room temperature, separated whites only
(62-68g or so each, when weighed in their shells)
- 200g caster sugar (white or golden)
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 large mixing bowl
- Electric mixer (hand-held, or stand)
- 2 baking trays
- Baking/parchment paper, cut to line the bottom of the trays
- 1 large spoon (eg a dessert spoon)
- Cooling rack
- Preheat oven to 120 C (100 C fan-assisted). Place the paper in the trays.
- Rub the cut side of the lemon all around the inside of your mixing bowl. Rub it also over the beaters of your electric mixer. If you leave blobs of lemon pulp, just rub them off with the edge of the lemon.
- Whisk the egg whites starting at low speed. Gradually increase the speed to high as the colour and texture change. Continue whisking until you have ‘soft peaks’ – when you stop the mixer and lift the beaters up, the stalagmites formed hold for a second, and then flop over.
- Add the sugar a large spoonful at a time, with the mixer on low. As you add more sugar, keep increasing the speed, until all the sugar’s been added. Continue whisking on high speed until you have glossy ‘stiff peaks’ (i.e., you think you could turn the bowl over your head without consequences).
- To test that it’s been whisked enough, stop the mixer. Push your index finger in and rub it along the bottom of the bowl, then rub it against your thumb. Can you feel sugar grains? If so, continue whisking on high speed for 15 seconds, and test again. Continue whisking and testing until you feel no graininess.
- Using a large spoon, plop the mixture onto your lined baking trays, 3 x 4 on each.
- Bake for 1 hour, then gently nudge one of the larger meringues. Does it move easily on the paper? If so, remove the trays from the oven. If not, turn the trays and leave for another 10 minutes. When they’re ready, remove the trays from the oven and move the meringues to a wire rack to cool.
- The chocolate ganache is detailed over here in my other recipe. To serve, dribble the ganache over the meringues.
Tips and Notes
– Rub the bowl and beaters with lemon as instructed, and there’s no need to faff about with cream of tartar, vinegar, cornstarch, or whatnot (that so many recipes confusingly instruct).
– I’ve tried using 1/2 caster sugar and 1/2 icing sugar, and tried folding in the icing sugar as well as whisking it in. To be honest, no-one I served them to could tell the difference, so the extra faff just wasn’t worth it.
– I like meringues where the inside is softish and the outside is crisp. If you like them crispy all the way through, turn off the oven after 1 hour and 15 minutes and leave them in the oven (door closed) until fully cooled.
– The meringues (no topping) freeze amazingly well – put them into a sealed plastic bag, and they defrost to the exact state they were post-baking. They can be crumbled and used as a cake topping, or added to ice cream, or used anywhere you want some added sweetness and crunch.
– This is a French meringue. There’s also Italian and Swiss meringues, both of which have their purposes – but not to be served this way. (And I don’t have a candy thermometer nor a stand mixer, anyway.)
– I like to think of this recipe as ‘starter meringues’ – it’s uncomplicated but if you’ve never made meringues before, it’s so easy that you’ll gain confidence to add colours and/or flavours, and try the more difficult types.