My idea of a perfect meringue is one that is light and crisp on the outside, and a mass of goo on the inside. The gooier and stickier the better! However, I have now learnt that a good Swiss meringue, if anything other than light and crisp throughout, is a failure. If gooey meringues are wrong, then I don’t want to be right, I’ve decided. Therefore, my recipe recommends cooking your meringues for less time than is actually prescribed. If you’d prefer yours to be ‘perfect’ in the eyes of the critics, then bake them for an extra half hour.
I recommend using a piping bag to make your meringues. Not because it makes any difference in the flavour or texture, but because it’s actually a lot of fun piping meringues into a hundred different shapes! You can just buy a pack of simple plastic piping bags and a few different nozzles and go to town. You can even pipe the meringue into little baskets in which you can make mini pavlovas- a fantastic dinner party dessert for summer!
Chantilly cream is, in my humble opinion, a culinary wonder. Double cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract: three simple ingredients that when combined result in pure magic. I don’t like my cream to be too sweet, but if you do, whack in another tablespoon of icing sugar. Remember that you want your cream to be thick enough to hold its shape, but not too thick! It should be a little bit pudding-like in consistency.
If you’re feeling Christmassy (I know it’s only October but I’m already in the festive spirit) then you can whip up a melba sauce in which to dip your meringue sandwiches. Melba sauce is quite simply raspberries and icing sugar whizzed together in a blender until smooth. If your raspberries are very sweet, you can add a few drops of lemon juice for a bit of tanginess. Once you’ve blitzed the mixture in the blender, pass it through a fine sieve to get rid of the raspberry seeds and voila, a lovely, smooth, festive dipping sauce. You need to make this just before serving, however, as it doesn’t sit well.
Making a good meringue can be tricky, as if you whisk the egg whites just a little bit too far, the mixture will spoil. You’ll know that it’s no good once the egg whites begin to resemble slightly torn up cotton wool balls. If this happens- don’t worry! Just start again, because really this is such a quick recipe to make. I for one never used to whip my meringue enough, meaning I never got truly great, light meringues. Don’t be afraid of the electric beater- it is your friend here. You want very stiff peaks, but know when to stop. If you pick the beaters up out of the mixture, and stiff peaks remain on the ends of the beaters, you’re good to go.
Chantilly Cream Meringue Sandwiches
Makes about 15 meringues
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
350ml double cream
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius
Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper
In a large metal bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric beater until stiff peaks form
Once they’ve formed, beat in 4 tablespoons of caster sugar, one at a time, beating the mixture back up to stiff peaks between each tablespoon of sugar
Once you’ve beaten in the 4 spoons, beat the rest in bit by bit, continuing to bring the mixture back to stiff peaks
You should end up with a pearly, glossy, thick meringue mixture
Cut open the end of your piping bag and insert the nozzle of your choosing
Put it into a jug or big glass nozzle-down and fold the piping bag over the sides of the jug to make it easier to put the mixture into it
Spoon the meringue into the piping bag carefully, then pipe it into whatever shapes you desire on the baking sheets (first stick down the corners of the baking paper to the tray with a bit of meringue)
The larger the meringues, the longer they’ll take to cook, so try to make sure that no matter what shapes you do, all of the meringues are roughly the same size so that they bake at the same rate
Pop the trays into the oven and set your timer for one hour and 20 minutes
While the meringues are baking, make the Chantilly cream
In another large bowl, using a hand-held whisk to avoid over-beating, beat the cream with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and the vanilla extract until thick and mousse-like but not too heavy
Taste it and sweeten with some more sugar if needed
Cover in cling film and keep in the fridge until the meringues are ready
Check on your meringues after the prescribed time- they should be crisp and hollow on the outside, but should have a gooey middle if crushed (sacrifice one as a tester here)
If they are, remove them from the oven
If you’d like them to be baked through, leave them for another 25-30 minutes
Allow them to cool for 10 minutes on their baking tray, and then move them over to a wire rack to cool completely
Once cool, sandwich them together with a teaspoon or more of the Chantilly cream
Did you try this recipe and love it?
I’d like to know.
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