Meringues are a great way to use up egg whites and they are very easy to make. They work equally well with fresh or frozen (and thawed) whites, too. For the best meringues, warm the sugar in the oven first to give you a stiffer mixture. Once made, you have many fine puddings to use them in, though I rarely get past filling a large round with fruit and cream as a pavlova, or breaking them up into pieces and folding them through whipped double cream with soft fruit for an Eton mess.
- Yield: 12 (or a large meringue round)
- 300 g caster sugar
- 1 slice of lemon
- 5 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6 and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Spread the sugar evenly over one of the baking trays. Place in the oven and allow it to just begin to melt around the edge but not colour; this should take 6–8 minutes.
- Wipe the inside of an electric mixer bowl or large mixing bowl and your whisk with the lemon slice to remove any hint of grease. Add the eggs whites to the bowl and, just as you remove the sugar from the oven, start whisking at high speed (using the mixer or a handheld electric whisk) until they form soft peaks.
- Turn the oven to its lowest setting, probably 100°C/Gas mark ¼. With great care, tip the hot sugar in a steady stream onto the egg whites, whisking as you do so. Keep whisking until the meringue is glossy and holds its shape. Add any flavours you might fancy at this stage.
- Spoon the meringue onto the other prepared baking tray in a dozen luscious dollops (or a single great wheel if you prefer), spacing individual meringues apart to allow them room to expand as they cook.
- Place in the oven for a couple of hours. The meringue(s) are done when they are crisp on the outside and lift off the paper easily. Leave to cool completely and store in an airtight container if not using immediately.