There is a lot of debate around meringues and what their texture should be. Some say crispy all the way through, some say hard on the outside and chewy on the inside. Either is actually nice, just don’t give me the commercial ‘powdery’ kind.
I would say that I prefer meringues to be crispy all the way through and pavlova to be crispy on the outside, with a nice soft (not chewy) middle part.
As with baking in general, there also seems to be a lot of anxiety around making meringues. I find them quite simple as long as you stick to a few basic rules which I will reiterate here ….’clean bowl, fresh eggs (I ONLY ever use free range/ organic it makes all the difference), no egg-shell or yolk in the whites, add the sugar very slowly and steadily and basically beat the hell out if it’.
Here is the stunning pavlova recipewhere I combined Nigella’s recipe with Jamie’s method. Worked out brilliantly.
For meringues you will need a ratio of 2 egg whites to 60gms of castor sugar and in order to make you follow the rules as per above.
For this recipe I wanted to add an interesting twist, so sprinkled some ground pink peppercorns (about 1 tsp) before baking.
How to make:
- pre heat the oven to 140 C
- seperate the eggs in a small bowl thereby catching any egg shell and reducing the risk of a broken yolk landing in the main bowl with the other egg whites. This is particularly useful when making a large batch or a pavlova
- beat with an electric mixer (you must use an electric mixer) until the whites reach the soft peak stage then very slowly add the castor sugar to the whites and continue to beat until they are silky and shiny (this takes between 8 – 10 minutes). *Nigella recommends adding half the sugar to the mix and beating, and the other half to fold in with a metal spoon (I didnt do this)
- most recipes recommend handling the meringue with metal spoons, so I scooped the mix out with 2 tablespoons (one to scoop and the other to scrape) and place on a lined baking sheet allowing a bit of space between each (I use a silicone baking mat or plastic baking sheets which are brilliant)
- I love a more natural and loose meringue shape, but a piping bag makes things very easy and gives your meringues a consistent look
- sprinkle over about 1 tsp of ground pink peppercorns
- bake in the oven for 1 hour and then turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside until its cool
The soft pink pepper taste was subtle and gorgeous. So much so that next time I will add a bit more and stir some through the meringue mixture as well. I think cinnamon and the pepper will also work well together.
These meringues were light and crispy with a slight chewiness right in the middle.