These were a revelation. Meringues have always been one of my most-favorite desserts, but they are also a dessert I've had a fear of. They sound persnickety and challenging and far too high-maintence for someone who doesn't always follow a recipe and tends to cook relatively simple things. Rainbow cake and challah are probably the most complicated dishes on this site, and they're not really that bad. (Pretty impressive, though, if you're looking to impress)
|Left: not ready, just foamy. Be patient, this too shall pass|
Right: soft peaks! When you lift your beaters out of the whites, just the tip of the peaks should fall over
But now that I've burst this particular bubble, I can't wait to try Pavlovas and chocolate meringues and mocha meringues and candy corn meringues. That last one may have to wait until the fall since most people I know can only handle candy corn once a year (if they can stomach it at all). But Pavlovas? They are a perfect vehicle for raspberries and other summer fruits that are soon-to-be abundant.
|Left: adding brown sugar. For a bit, it will look less stiff. |
Right: see? it's ok. The mix stiffens up again. Note the stiff peaks that don't fall over
Never tried meringues? You need to. Not only are they super delicious, they're practically a healthy dessert since there's nothing to them besides egg whites, sugar, and air.
|Left: I forgot until they were in the oven to get a Before photo. You can even see my spoon-dropped ones on the top.|
Right: After. The piped ones definitely look the best. And they're so cute!
A couple tips to make sure you get the best ones possible:
- Use a glass or stainless steel bowl, not a plastic or ceramic one. The latter two kinds acquire tiny nicks and scratches over time that can trap tiny molecules of oil.
- Use a super clean bowl and beaters. Any trace of fat or oil can prevent your whites from stiffening up properly.
- Do not allow any yolk to get in the with whites for the same reason.
- Make sure your oven temperature is accurate. An overly hot oven will dry the exterior but leave the interior chewy instead of crisp.
Brown Sugar Meringues - dairy free & gluten free
adapted, barely, from Food + Wine April 2004
These are simpler than I imagined and super delicious. They taste a bit like toasted marshmallows. Perhaps some mini chocolate chips will find their way in next time? Here are some suggestions for leftover yolks.
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 C lightly packed light brown sugar (just over 4 oz)
pinch of salt
Separate your eggs while they are cold - it's easier. Refrigerate or freeze yolks and allow whites to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 250F. In a large glass or stainless bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks form. Beat in the brown sugar about a tablespoon at a time. Add the salt and continue to beat until the meringue is thick and glossy. This whole process took me about 15 minutes.
Spoon or pipe (I just used a plain+wide one. You could certainly go fancier, or even use a ziplock bag with the corner cut off, which might be less messy than the pastry-bag-that-got-very-sticky) 1-2-inch mounds of the meringue onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be fairly close together; mine didn't spread. Bake for 70 minutes, or until the meringues are no longer sticky to the touch. Depending on the day, weather, and humidity, you may need to bake them longer. I ended up keeping them in for an additional 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, prop the door open an inch, and let the meringues cool for 1 hour before serving.
I got about 40 (mostly small) meringues.
Store in an airtight container. If you don't, they may absorb moisture overnight and you'll need to bake them again for a short amount of time. I know this because I popped mine back in for 20 minutes the next day because they were sticky and wouldn't come off the parchment. Don't be like me.