Alex (nearly 11) is not to be out done by his sister’s feats, he wants to do some more cooking (and quite right too, why should the girls get all the glory).
We had a bit of a chat and a bit of a poke around in the larder, trying to think of something that would be acceptable to the pickiest of eaters. In common with most young boys Alex has no problem eating most sweets, so something with a nice high tooth rotting sugar content would be ideal. I briefly thought of making some sweets but we agreed on meringues, some for a Pavlova and the rest for wolfing down as fast as we can
Making meringue’s is inherently frugal as it is a great way of using up egg white’s if you have been making any custards etc. which is why I had some in the fridge.
The meringue’s that we choose to make were French meringue’s which are the simplest and most common type made, in which caster sugar is folded or beaten into the beaten egg whites. Here in the Loire Valley meringues are referred to as ‘Pets’ or ‘farts’ because of their light and fluffy nature a name of some appeal to most nearly 11 year old boy’s! In fact I have somewhere a local recipe for Pets du Nonne or Nun’s farts which I must dig out for you.
I remembered that I also had some food dye for making Macarons so Alex I agreed that we should make our meringues in the most unlikely colour possible. I agreed with Alex that Pearl effect sky blue was pretty unlikely!
So to make your Meringues or Farts you need
- 4 egg whites
- 240 gms of caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- Food colouring if being used.
Making meringue’s is pretty easy but there are a couple of things that you need to get right.
If possible use egg whites at room temperature as your finished product will be larger and lighter.
- Make sure bowls and whisks are dry, moisture is the enemy of meringue’s as both egg white and sugar are moisture hungry.
Place the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt, do add the salt, some people think the salt is added to absorb water or to give stability. The real reason is that a little salt will help to develop the taste of the sugar, effectively making sweet things taste sweeter.
Whisk the egg whites until they are at a firm peak stage (they hold their shape when the whisk is withdrawn).
Add a table spoon of caster sugar to the whisked egg whites and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and glossy. At this stage you can slowly whisk in the rest of the sugar or fold the sugar in with a metal spoon. I prefer the later as I think folding gives more texture to the finish meringue.
Spoon the completed mix onto a non-stick sheet as blob’s or as a meringue case on pop into a very cool oven gas mark 1/2 or 130C for about 2 to 3 hours. I stick the end of a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it ajar as it allows the moisture to escape and it prevent the meringue from sweating.
They you are, easy really. Here’s a picture of Alex showing of his finished Pavlova (whisk some cream and add some fruit), a lovely shade of blue. He’s justifiably proud and in case you are wondering…yes it did slide of the plate!