If I bring wee meringue shells into work, they bring gasps of disbelief. Aren’t they too much faff for the average Bake-Off reject to handle? Meringues may take a bit of time to do properly but are actually rather simple. They only need two ingredients: whisk them together and put them on a tray and that’s it.
These ones have a few wee adornments, which don’t make them any harder to make. For that stripy effect, all you do it paint thin lines of food colouring down the side of a piping bag before filling with the whipped sugary egg whites and squeezing it out the end. The rosewater gives a lovely floral hint that is especially suited to these treats being served without any accompaniment.
Sure, you can serve with cream, but why detract from a dessert that’s light, fat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free? The key to success is in the baking. Low and slow. You don’t want to put much golden colour on them or else you’ll ruin the stripiness.
First, preheat your oven to 120C/100C fan/Gas 1⁄4. Line a baking tray with baking paper (non stick greaseproof).
Into a large bowl, separate out your egg whites. Keep yolks in the fridge – you might be able touse them in custard, crème brulee or to add richness to cakes and brownies. Using an electric whisk, beat your egg whites until large, light and fluffy. Then, keep beating for about 30 seconds more.
Weigh your sugar into another bowl, then (whisking all the time), begin to add it to your egg whites. The slower you add it, the bigger meringues you’ll have. I do it a teaspoon at a time, whisking until all the sugar is absorbed. At this point, whisk in your rosewater.
Turn a disposable piping bag inside out and place it standing upright on your surface like a big cone. Paint four stripes down the entire length of piping bag using your food colouring. Then push the very tip of your cone downwards to pop it the right way again.
Now fill your piping bag with meringue mixture, gradually, so as not to leave any air bubble gaps in your piping bag. Twist the end of the bag to seal, then snip 1cm off the end. Squeeze swirls and spirals in any way you like onto your lined baking tray.
Bake for 90 minutes to two hours. Check every 30 mins or so. If they begin to brown, turn the oven down even more. You want them to dry out rather than cook.
Once finished, leave to cool. They will store in an airtight container for ages. Optionally, you can fill them with cream but I like to enjoy them pure and unadulterated
For the biggest, fluffiest meringues, use a clean bowl made of metal, ceramic or glass. If you only have plastic, make sure it’s super clean. Rub with lemon juice before drying to remove any fat that might be lurking.