Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas 1/2. Line two or three baking trays with baking parchment.
Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites in a medium, grease-free bowl, starting with a low speed and gradually increasing it to high, until stiff peaks form. Begin to add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar is incorporated. Whisk the mixture for a further 5 minutes to completely dissolve all the sugar. You can check this by rubbing a little meringue mixture between your fingers to make sure no grains remain. If it’s still grainy, continue to whisk a little more.
Once the meringue is smooth and glossy, whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.
Take the piping bag and turn the top down about halfway. Using the paintbrush, draw lines of food colouring paste on the inside of the bag all the way up from the nozzle end to the wider open top of the bag. For pastel shades use a thin line of paste, and for more intense colours use a thicker line of paste. Remember to clean the brush between applying each colour.
Once you have drawn all the coloured lines on the inside of the piping bag, carefully add spoonfuls of meringue to the bag, starting as low down in the bag as you can. Make sure the bag doesn’t collapse and spread the colours. Gently pull the sides of the bag back up and twist the top to secure. (You can place the piping bag in a measuring jug and fold the top of the bag down over the sides of the jug, then add the colours and meringue. This keeps the piping bag in place and avoids any slippages.)
Pipe small teardrops onto the prepared baking trays, leaving about 5cm between each one. Bake for 30–35 minutes. When the meringues are ready, they will pull off the paper easily – if they don’t, pop them back in for a few more minutes until they are ready. Set aside to cool on the baking trays for 1 hour, then peel off the paper. Serve or store. Stored in an airtight container (with baking parchment between each layer), these meringues will keep well, in a cool, dry place, for up to 2 weeks.
Extract from Rainbow Bakes by Mima Sinclair. Published by Kyle Books and distributed by Jonathan Ball Publishers. Available in all good book stores.
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