I used to think there’s magic and sorcery behind making meringue. I also avoided recipes that used only the yolk, because I didn’t want to waste the white. That was until I read a few Polish bloggers’ recipes and it turned out that making meringues is the easiest thing under the sun.
There’s not much to the basic recipe either as it has two main ingredients. The ratio is always the same; just double the sugar with every additional egg white.
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cacao, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 110°C.
Start by whisking the egg whites with a pinch of salt. You want your hand mixer to be on high, but not the highest speed setting (3rd of 4th). When the mixture is stiff (after about 5-8 minutes), test it by turning the bowl upside down. If the whites don’t move, they are ready. Turn the mixer on again on medium speed setting, and start adding the sugar by a spoonful. Whisk until you have a shiny, thick mixture that forms soft peaks easily, then add the vanilla extract and/or cacao powder and whisk until just combined. You could also divide the mixture in half, and add only half of the cacao powder to one of the portions.
Line a baking tray with paper. Place dollops of the mixture on the sheet using a spoon, or an actual piping tube if you’re not a basic peach like me. If you’re making these to be eaten on their own, I suggest using a teaspoon and making them approx. 40mm in diameter. The meringues are very fragile after baking and it’s impossible to eat a bigger one with your hands without making a mess.
Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 100°C and bake further 30 minutes. After that time turn the oven off and crack open the door. Allow the meringues to cool in the oven.
- Keep an eye on the meringues in the first 30 minutes of baking as ovens vary. If the edges start to brown, lower the temperature to 100°C.
- Sugar! Using icing sugar will result in meringues crispy and delicate on the outside, but chewy inside. Meringues made with caster sugar are crispy inside and outside with more uniform structure. Whichever sugar you use, remember that it must fully dissolve before you finish whisking.
- Temperature of the eggs doesn’t matter, but room temperature ones will result in a bit more volume to the final mixture.
- Using vanilla extract and unrefined caster sugar will result in light-beige coloured meringues. If you want pure white, use white sugar and skip vanilla.
- Adding a few drops of beetroot juice will give the meringue a nice pink colour. You can try adding a minimal amount of sifted matcha tea, but it will change the consistency a bit and make the meringue more chewy than crispy.