With Australia day coming up this weekend, now is the perfect time to our master the meringue? Here are my tips:
A scrupulous clean bowl is paramount. Stainless steel or glass or ceramic is best and definitely no plastic as it can hold fats not visible to the eye.
Use very fresh eggs. Fresh eggs have a thicker white which gives you a stable mixture for baking with less chance of the mix splitting before hitting the oven.
Eggs are best to separate when they are cold. I like to separate my eggs as soon as they are out of the fridge and then let them get to room temperature before whisking (10-15 minutes).
To ensure that no yolk gets into your egg whites, separate each egg into two small bowls — one for the white and one for the yolk — and then add the whites to the one large bowl.
I add both cornflour and also an acid (lemon juice, cream of tartar, white vinegar) to help stabilise the mixture.
Cornflour can stop the meringues from weeping. The acid (in my case, vinegar) can prevent the mixture from splitting. Don’t use a copper bowl if adding acid to your mix. I now add these stabilisers to the egg whites before the whisking begins.
Meringues don’t like humidity, so my advice is not to make meringue on a humid day, or there may be tears.
The egg whites must be at soft peaks before the sugar is added gradually. Each addition should be completely dissolved before the next one goes in. Your mixture is ready when it is smooth & glossy, and all sugar is completely dissolved. I use caster sugar instead of granulated sugar as the tiny crystals dissolve more efficiently and thoroughly. You can take a small amount of the mixture and rub it between your fingertips to ensure the sugar has dissolved.
Always whisk on medium-high speed and never at high speed until the soft peaks form. Whisking on high speed will give a frothy consistency to the mixture which will almost be a guarantee to crack and weep when baking.
If time is on your side, allow your meringue to cool in the oven with the oven turned off and the door slightly a jar. Meringues can crack with a sudden change in temperature.
A recipe for Australia day.
I celebrate a multicultural Australia. This year, my culinary tour for 2019 will be to Morocco. What better dish to share on this upcoming Australia day. Perfect meringues which are quintessentially Australian with a Moroccan inspired and utterly delicious topping?
Happy Australia day, upcoming to you all. We have so much to reflect on, be grateful for and to celebrate.
Moroccan-inspired Baby Pavlova with Pomegranates
6 egg whites*
330g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
200ml cream, whipped
15g Icing sugar
1 teaspoon rose water
50g caster sugar
40 ml boiling water
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon sumac
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
Strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
Freeze dried raspberry powder
Dried rose petals
Preheat oven to 120°C.
Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl along with the cornflour and vinegar. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, a little at a time, allowing each to be well incorporated, so you end up with a thick, glossy meringue.
Spoon the pavlova mix into 10-12 individual mounds. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off, leaving the pavlovas to cool inside the oven.
Place the cream in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the icing sugar and rose water and continue to whisk, just until combined. Keep in the fridge until required.
Mix the caster sugar with 40ml of boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the pomegranate molasses and sumac, stir to combine and set aside.
When pavlovas are cool, place each one on a serving plate, top with whipped cream/mascarpone mixture, add sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Finish with a drizzle of the pomegranate sugar syrup.
Serve with mint leaves and freeze-dried raspberry powder & dried rose petals (optional). Serve immediately.
*For a vegan-friendly meringue recipe, use 2 tablespoons of chickpea water (aquafaba) for every 1 egg white.