Sunday, 9 August 2009

Meringue Success!

Meringues have never been my forte. I've made meringue roulades with some success (apart from that time when I welded the sticky sugary mess to the baking paper about half an hour before friends arrived for dinner). But I've never mastered the art of the beautiful simple meringue. It's not that I haven't tried , or at least had the very best of intentions of using those egg whites which I carefully put into a plastic tub in the fridge...

I found myself with one such little tub full of egg whites last weekend after our bake-a-thon for the UKFBA stall. Determined not to waste them I called Mum (who needs recipe books when your mum is but a telephone call away...). Her advice was 2oz caster sugar for each egg white, a capful of white wine vinegar, a tea spoon of cornflour (which I didn't have), beat the egg whites until stiff and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until glossy. Armed with these pearls of wisdom I set to work making plain meringues and (inspired by my recently purchased Ottolenghi cook book) some blackberry swirl meringues to use up some blackberries which were lurking in the back of the fridge.

When I posted my photos on flickr last week, @goodshoeday who writes the blog With Knife and Fork asked me what the secret to good meringues was. Like me, she'd never managed to make perfect meringues like you see piled high in Ottolenghis. Jubilant from my recent success I promised to blog about them. I'm not saying they will be just as good next time. But for once, I made meringues I could be proud of so here's what I did. Let me know if they work for you!


4 egg whites
8oz caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour (I didn't use this because I didn't have any, but I'm told it's good for meringues which are nice and gooey in the middle)


Set your oven on low - around 100C (I set my fan oven at 90C).

Unless you're Popeye after a good dose of spinach, the best way to make meringues is with an electric hand whisk or the balloon whisk on your mixer. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then, with the mixer still running, add the sugar a spoonful at a time, making sure it's fully mixed before adding the next spoonful. Eventually the egg and sugar mixture will turn thick and glossy. Add the white wine vinegar and the cornflour and mix thoroughly.

Grease and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put big serving spoonfuls of the meringue mixture on the baking sheet and bake for at least 1 and 1/2 hours, until the meringue is crispy and cooked through.

Quite a few people seem to be foraging for blackberries at the moment and the blackberry swirl meringues are perfect to use up the last few blackberries which haven't made it into jam, crumble or tarts...

Blackberry Swirl Meringues

Make some blackberry coulis by blitzing a handful of blackberries with a tablespoon of caster sugar. Pass the coulis through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.

Take half of the meringue mixture above and add a large spoonful of the blackberry coulis. Don't stir it in or you'll just end up with purple meringues! You only need to give the mixture one stir with the spoon so that the meringue mixture has that 'raspberry ripple ice cream' effect.

Cook in the same way as the plain meringues, although they may need a little longer because of the extra liquid.

Blackberry Eton Mess

We ate the leftover meringues in a blackberry eton mess - whipped double cream, broken up meringue, leftover blackberry coulis and fresh blackberries. It's not a pretty dessert but it tastes damn fine!


  1. Oh my goodness your meringues turned out amazing! They look delicious and I could do that eton mess right now :)

  2. fantastic looking meringues! and I've a load of blackberries left over from picking last week

    Thank you

  3. Beautiful! I definitely fall into the meringue-dunce category, mine are always like leathery pancakes that would make great doorstops. I keep blaming my oven, but you know what they say about poor workmen..! Love the idea of blackberry ones, so seasonal and stunning photos too, I am definitely going to give your recipe a try! Thanks for this.

  4. Wow- they look fab! I have a glut of blackberries at the moment and this looks like a good alternative to fools and crumbles. I doubt they'll be hanging around for too long, but any idea how long these would keep for?

  5. Wow they really do look like in Ottolenghi. I've now collected enough berries and this is my project for tomorrow. If they are successful I will suffer sugar OD as husband doesn't like meringue....I'm hope they store well.
    Thanks for posting the technique :)

  6. Catty, Paul - Thank you! Strangely proud of myself for such a small achievement...!

    Gastrogeek - Try them again, because I've never managed them like this before so I'm positive you'll make some beautiful ones.

    TheFastestIndian - Oddly enough mine didn't last long so no idea how long they keep for. I guess smaller ones which are dry right through should last for a while in a tin.

    Goodshoeday - Let me know whether you had chance to try making them.

    I saw the little lavender ones Valantine Warner made on What to Eat Know this morning..I am so making me some of those!

  7. I made them :)
    They were great - I didn't do the swirl thing this time as I wanted to get the basics right and I did - they were a lovely golden colour because of the sugar I used. I'll be trying the swirl effect next - move Mr Ottolenghi ;)

  8. I love meringues. They are brilliant in the Aga, chewy inside and a golden colour...

  9. Goodshoeday - I'm so pleased they worked! Did you blog about them?

    MsMarmiteLover - Meringues in the aga are a dream. Mum has an aga at home (a British racing green one) and meringues come out perfect. My new oven isn't half bad at them either, but I didn't get the golden colour you get in the aga.

  10. Well, your meringues are gorgeous so I understand why everyone is asking so many questions. I love the swirling colors and I sure wish I could taste these.

  11. Oh the blackberry swirling through looks fab.

  12. Thank you Kim and gomichild. I very nearly ended up with purple meringues because I started out with great gusto stiring the blackberry puree into the meringue mixture... Turned out well though.

    The odd thing is that I'm not actually a huge fan of meringues. I love the idea of them and they do look so pretty, but they're not at the top of my 'must eat' list!

  13. What gorgeous meringues! I've never heard of the vinegar tip - thanks!

  14. Hi, you seem to be a good person to ask: have you tried ginger meringues? I'm trying to think of a couple of different ripple-flavours to make for a sale-stall and am experimenting, tonight have made rosehip + raspberry syrup (tasted fab but was too thick and didn't stir in well) and a batch of lemon-curd ripple (bit of extra zest + juice for contrast with the sugary meringue Hoping this would appeal as a lemon-meringue pie flavour. Both lots are currently cooling to test tomorrow. Anyway, was thinking about soaking chopped dried mango in the syrup from stem ginger and then cooking it up to thicken a bit.
    Any suggestions for using the residual yolks?

  15. I haven't tried ginger meringues not, but I imagine using the syrup from a jar of stem ginger would be pretty tasty. You'd only need a small amount for a background gingery flavour.

    How did you get on with your lemon meringue ones?

    As for the yolks, they usually get passed to Mr GG to make pasta!