merry meringues.

ginormous meringues with strawberry dust

yes, i know it doesn't seem like i know any other holiday-esque adjective besides "merry" but yah maybe i don't. i saw big, beautiful raspberry meringues on doc18's flickr photostream, and found them very appealing. doc18's meringues were from ottolenghi in london; i've never been, but it looks very much like a place i'd like. however, it doesn't look like i'll be getting to the uk any time soon, so again, i must make do with make at home.

upon some reflection, i've realized i don't really like meringues all that much, but i do like aspects of them a lot--fat freedom and texture mainly; that they are overly sweet and not particularly flavoured with anything, not so much. also, i wasn't very good at making them. however, with a little patience, a vat of egg whites, and some help from baking 911, i've learned some tricks for success in a humid, tropical kitchen. the main thing, of course, is to try to keep the humidity at bay, but making a swiss meringue--which cooks the egg whites and sugar before beating--allows for the sugar to melt thoroughly (no graininess or weeping--on the meringue's nor cook's part), and stabilizes the mix more for a lighter, fluffier texture. also, in more humid climates, longer oven times are necessary, but at a lower temperature--lower, slower. whoo. barry white meringues!

still working on flavour. vanilla is nice, but want more variety. for these i simply whirred some freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor to make a ruby red dust for decoration and a bit of tartness. holiday gorgeous, certainly, but if anyone has any other flavouring suggestions, please let me know!

freeze-dried strawberries

big baked meringues, humid weather formula (aka barry whites)

2 egg whites (from large eggs)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoonful vanilla extract
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 300˚F. over a pot of simmering water, stir the egg whites and sugar together until the sugar melts and the mixture feels quite warm (but not hot!). add vanilla and salt. take the mixture off the heat, and whisk (or use a mixer) until thick, glossy and doubled in volume. plop big blobs of the stuff onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then bake in oven for 1-1 1/2 hours. drop the temperature to 250˚F, bake for another 1-2 hours, then turn off oven. leave the meringues in oven overnight to continue drying.

makes 4 to 6 big bazonking meringues.


These look fabulous, Santos. Very Christmassy.

I went to Ottolenghi when I was in London last September (Notting Hill) and loved the place. I felt like eating the entire place once I walking through the door. :)

Meringues! My aunt makes mean meringues... I do feel like you though, I'm not quite sure I really like them, yet sometimes they seem to hit the spot.

Re. flavors - chocolate! Or rather, cocoa - add a little cocoa powder to the mix. That way, they aren't as sweet, either. Hmm. We also have a synthetic tasting strawberry version around here - how about adding just a hint of strawberry juice? Or lemon zest? Cocoa nibs?

Powdering the freeze-dried fruit is brilliant! I assumed when I saw them that was sugar, but sugar on a meringue would be a bit much -so much better to have tangy fruit flavor. I'm with Zarah on using cocoa - or maybe cocoa and that raspberry powder of yours together!

whoops - I got mixed up on the flavors. I see yours are strawberry... maybe you could find some freeze-dried raspberries?

hello patricia, happy holidays to you! oh you lucky woman. everything i've seen from ottolenghi looks so lovely. what did you have?

zarah, i have such trouble with adding any more liquid to meringues than the tiny bit of vanilla extract. i really want to try fruity variations, but don't know how to introduce the flavours. i'm wary about using zest of cocoa nibs because i'm afraid the oils in them will deflate the egg whites and create little hard shells around the bits, you know? cocoa sounds good, though!

hi cathy! i like the look of sugar on meringues, but you're right--more sugar is just cah-razy. i like the idea of mixing raspberry with cocoa though. i can't find freeze-dried raspberries on island though, and the only place i can find that sells them online and will ship to me is a survivalist/camping store. eeek! i did ask someone to bring some over when he arrives on island for the holidays, so maybe i can do it after all.

I get your point re. the extra liquid. How about introducing the powder of dried fruits into the mix? Or too lumpy again, you think? Also thought of another one: coffee. Although that would need really finely ground coffee. Maybe you could infuse the sugar-eggwhites mixture with flavor, then strain it, before whipping it? Hmmm... You got me thinking here...:)

You could blend in some unsweetened drink mix powder, like kool-aid. (makes me think of the kool-ickles article). Or maybe grind more freeze dried fruits and incorporate that into the mix. This is pure speculation- I've never made meringues!

kool aid! i wonder if that would work....thanks for the suggestion, i'll have to experiment sometime.

We had breakfast there, sweetie, so I had a banana pecan muffin, cappuccino, and a focaccia sandwich. My husband had loads of coffee and delicious parmesan straws. :)
There were tons of other things I wanted to eat, but I was going to Fifteen on the same day, had to keep the stomach kind of empty. :D

hello patricia! i think if i had to choose, i might pick ottolenghi over fifteen, but i hope to never have to make that decision :)

The idea of using powdered, freeze-dried fruit for the top is genius!

Wow..!! santos..!! really pretty .. these meringues.. ;)