It’s been a rough couple of days. I just lost someone really special to me. She played such a big role in my culinary life so it hasn’t been easy at all to get back to the kitchen. But they say, life goes on and my Nana has always been so supportive of everything I do that I know she would only want to see me push myself harder and achieve that ‘pastry chef’ in my resume.
Really going to miss her honest feedback on my experiments but I know she’s watching over me from above and I feel her presence in my heart while I’m baking so going to make her extremely proud in the next couple of months to come.
Egg whites and sugar. It’s amazing how these two simple ingredients get transformed into perfectly light, airy and delicate meringue.
When it’s dry and gloomy outside, get into your kitchen and let the meringue moood take over you.
It may sound very simple. I mean how more complex can it get. After all, it’s just two ingredients but you can really mess up your meringue if you don’t follow certain tips. I don’t have too many rules I follow but here are a few I religiously keep in mind while making them and have no more disasters in the kitchen.
First things first. Always use a big clean, dry glass bowl. Never use plastic because it could have some oil and that will spoil the meringue.
The next important factor is the temperature of the eggs. You need the egg whites at room temperature but what I usually do is separate when chilled, let them rest for an hour and them whip them together. I find this a much easier method otherwise your eggs may break up.
Coming to the next ingredient of this recipe, the biggest question usually asked is what kind of sugar to use. Each one have their own way of making it but for me,I swear by caster sugar. Somehow, I don’t like the texture icing sugar gives it.
To make the meringue stay in shape and become a bit more firm in structure, I add one tsp of white vinegar. Pro bakers will tell you to use cream of tartar but vinegar is just as good for me.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients sorted, following a particular technique is extremely crucial. To whisk them all together, you could either use a stand mixer or electric hand beater. I prefer using an electric beater but if you’re making a larger quantity then a stand mixer would be more apt. But I’m going to tell you how you can make the perfect meringue with a hand beater.
In a bowl, start beating the egg whites on low speed for about 2 minutes until they form soft peaks. Then add the vinegar and increase the speed. So I usually start on 1 and slowly move to 2, 3, and 4. This could differ from beaters to beaters. Once you see the mixture resembling a fluffy cloud and standing up in stiff peaks, it’s time to add the sugar, a spoonful at a time. It’s very important to add the sugar little by little at this stage to avoid weeping later on. Continue beating for around 7-8 seconds after every addition. Don’t over-beat the mixture. Beat for another 8-10 minutes until thick and glossy.
My favourite test to check whether it’s done is lift the bowl over your head and nothing should fall out! =D
The ratio of sugar and egg whites totally depend on the kind of meringue you want to make. There are two types- soft and hard. Soft is usually used to top pies or baked alaska so doesn’t require pre-baking so less sugar whereas hard meringue needs to bake fully and hence requires more sugar.
You can create so many magical desserts with meringue but I had only one thing on my mind- Pavlova. And it wasn’t any pavlova but Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Pavlova. I’ve been wanting to try this out ever since her appearance on Masterchef Australia last season but just got caught up with a whole lot of other things.
It’s really simple to recreate though and consists of 3 main components- the meringue, lemon curd and toasted almonds. The original recipe also includes whipped cream but I tried avoiding that as I wanted to enjoy the rusticity of the meringue and lemon curd plus I’m trying to cut down on fattening ingredients. I honestly didn’t miss the cream.
To make this pavlova, Nigella uses just egg whites and sugar but I felt adding that drop of vinegar helped me structure the meringue better. It’s important to wait for the base to cool completely before adding the lemon curd otherwise it may crack.
What I love best about this recipe is the acidity. That citrusy flavour from the lemons give the pavlova such a beautiful twist, leaving a wonderful taste on your palate.
This is drool-worthy and you can’t get enough of it!!