This week I've been making ice cream in preparation for Ice Cream Day 2010 (currently a fictional event in my head) which means I have tons of egg whites left over that are calling out to be made into crisp meringues. Mastering meringues has been an ambition of mine for too long, but I'm happy to say this is probably my best effort yet.
I whisked 9 large egg whites with a pinch of salt until peaks were firm, but not stiff. Added an enormous amount of caster sugar (500g) one spoonful at a time while still whisking, until I had a bowl full of gleaming, white shiny meringue. Then I sprinkled 4 teaspoons of corn flour, 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract over the bowl and folded these in. I heaped large spoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment into circles approximately 8 cm in diameter - don't make them too large or they won't cook all the way through (as some of mine didn't, the smaller ones were perfect though) - then turn down your pre-heated 180C oven to 150C and pop them in for 30 mins. After 30 mins turn the oven off, leave them in there for another 30 minutes and then remove to cool on wire racks. Store in an air tight container for several days as desired, or scoff straight away with whipped cream and fruit. This recipe was from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, but I read several recipes before making them, incorporating a couple of tips from other books, so I also warmed the egg whites over heat in the mixing bowl (moving the whites all the time to avoid them cooking) so that the proteins in the eggs began to coagulate before the whisking even began. Cooking is just chemistry as Margret Thatcher once said (not quite sure how I know that though!).