Heat oven to 140°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and set up a piping bag with a medium size star nozzle.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until very stiff – the whites should stand in stiff (not floppy) peaks when the beaters are lifted out.
Once you have reached this point, pour in roughly half the sugar and the vanilla extract and whisk again until the mixture becomes very thick, firm and shiny. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again until thick, firm and shiny.
If you are adding colour or flavourings to your meringues, fold them in at this stage. You can either spoon billowy piles
onto a baking sheet, or carefully spoon the meringue into a piping bag.
Push any air out of the top and tightly twist the end of the piping bag to seal. Gently squeeze until meringue is visible at the end of the nozzle, then begin piping onto your lined baking sheets.
Pipe spiralling circles, about 6cm wide and layers high to make roughly 18. The
meringues will spread slightly as they cook, so leave enough space between each one.
Bake in the oven for 1 hr, turning the heat down to 120°C after 30 mins.
Remove from the oven – the meringues should peel away easily from the parchment – and cool on a wire rack.
They can be made up to a week ahead and kept in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 3 months, between layers of parchment, in an airtight container.
Cream and chocolate meringues: Put 100g dark chocolate in a glass bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Carefully dip the base of each meringue in to coat, then place on their sides on a plate or tray to set.
While the chocolate sets, whip 300ml double cream.
Assemble the meringues in pairs and sandwich their chocolate bases together with a good spoonful of
cream. Delicious served with ice cream, raspberry coulis or fresh berries.
Citrus swirl meringues: Gently fold zest 1 orange and ¼ tsp yellow or orange food colouring into the basic meringue mix, then spoon 4-6 large shapes onto baking parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 45 mins at
140°C, then for a further 45 mins at 120°C.
Turkish Delight meringues: Make the basic meringue mix minus the vanilla extract, then gently fold in ¼ tsp rose water and ¼ tsp red or pink food colouring. Shape and bake as above.
Chocolate meringues: Finely grate a small knob of plain chocolate and chill while you make the meringue. Fold 1 tbsp cocoa powder into the basic mix, then shape, scatter with the grated chocolate and bake as per the citrus swirl version.
-For a perfect meringue, always begin with very clean, completely grease-free equipment.
-Be careful that no yolk or shell gets in with your egg whites, and whisk whites to stiff peaks before adding anything else.
This should ensure a stiff, but pipeable, mix producing a light and crunchy texture.
53 kcals, protein 1g, carbs 13g, fat none, sat fat none, fibre none, sugar 13g, salt 0.04g