from one generation to the next
The choices for using them seem so limited, all meringue based, pavlova, macaroon, macarons. A little sweet treat to enjoy with coffee seems the most obvious choice, but the pantry is a bare. I’m completely out of nuts so that strikes amaretti, and macadamia meringues off the list. There are no walnuts either for our favourite meringue with coffee, coconut seems my only option, ho hum.
Then looking as the glossy mix in the bowl I had visions of chocolate swirls……
Meringues have a reputation for being temperamental, humidity it’s worst enemy. Making meringue by hand is hard work, and personally, I wouldn’t bother without a stand mixer. For those lucky enough to own a mixer and live in a temperate zone, here are my tips for success.
1. Use a scrupulously clean bowl when whisking egg whites, preferably stainless steel. Oil has a tendency to cling to plastic and it will inhibit the egg whites trapping air
2. The egg whites should be at room temperature, 20C or more.
3. A pinch of salt will help the egg whites aerate.
4. Fine grained sugar is preferable and it should be added very slowly.
5. When you think the meringue has finished whisking, test to make sure that the sugar has completely dissolved by rubbing a small amount between the tip of your fore finger and thumb. It should not feel gritty. Keep beating if it does.
6. According to Stephanie Alexander, the ideal egg white to sugar ratio is 1 egg white to 60g sugar. I find this works perfectly and allows infinite flexibility with egg white numbers.
7. Meringue needs to be dried out rather than baked, so keep the oven temperature low, 120C-130C and turn the fan off if possible.
8. Allow the meringue to rest in the oven with the heat off.
9. Store in a well sealed airtight container.
110g egg whites (3 eggs) at room temperature
Pinch of salt
180g castor sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 130C. Line two oven proof trays with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites and sugar into firm peaks. Slowly add the sugar one spoonful at a time continuing to whisk the egg whites. After all the sugar has been incorporated, continue whisking until it has all dissolved. Test the mixture by rubbing a little together with the tips of the forefinger and thumb. If you feel gritty sugar grains, continue to whisk until the mixture feels smooth.
Fold the coconut into the meringue, then sift the cocoa into the mixture and very roughly fold it through.
Drop dessertspoons full of mixture onto the baking trays allowing room for the meringue to spread a little.
Bake for 45 minutes at 130C, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to rest in the oven for a further 45 minutes.
Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 dozen.