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Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Raw Sugar Meringues


These delectable little confections seem like they're made of air and sugar - sugary air, if you like. They are excellent treats for those with a sweet tooth, as they are super sweet and crunchy and don't fill you up all that much. (I do know someone - who shall remain nameless - who ate so many meringues that the person felt quite sick after that. This is really not advisable. no matter how much you like sweet things :P) Although the actual recipe is really quite simple, meringues can be quite tricky to make properly. I'll give you a few tips, but before that:

What you need:
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup water
1 egg white
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 120 C.
  2. Combine sugar and water in small pan, stir over medium heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Do not evaporate liquid during this process. Bring to boil, remove from heat.
  3. Beat egg white in small bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. With motor operating, add vinegar and cornflour, then gradually pour hot syrup into egg white in thin stream.
  4. Beat mixture for about 5 minutes, or until it holds its shape.
  5. Spoon meringue mixture into piping bag (or syringe) fitted with a fluted tube. Pipe small meringue shapes (circles, stars, etc) about 3 cm apart on baking paper-covered oven trays.
  6. Bake in oven for about 1 hour or until meringues are dry to touch. Turn oven off, leave meringues to cool in oven with door ajar.

First thing is, its better to have at least two people working on this. One person can handle the sugar solution, the other person handles the egg white. Unfortunately, the thing about meringues is that they are either a success, or they aren't. Only very rarely do you get mediocre meringues.

Make sure that the egg you use is fresh, otherwise the egg white won't rise properly. When beating the egg, make sure its stiff enough by turning the bowl upside down (carefully). If the egg white starts to slide, you haven't beaten it enough. Beat it again. ;)

All the utensils you use to beat the egg white - the bowl, the whisks - should all be completely clean and dry. Like melting chocolate, the whole process can be completely ruined by a single drop of water. The egg should also be at room temperature when you use it.

Adding the syrup to the egg white can be tricky. You can't pour it in too fast, otherwise you'll just end up with what looks like very thick white paint. Like it says above, add it in a THIN stream. If the mixture starts looking a bit watery, stop adding the syrup and beat for awhile before continuing. Don't wait too long however, as the sugar solution has to be hot. Likewise, don't wait too long before baking the meringues, otherwise the egg white will just collapse.

Cooked meringues should be crisp both outside and inside. Make sure the oven is hot enough before you put the tray in. If the temperature is too low, the meringues won't cook properly, but if it is too high (or baked for too long), they'll burn to a crisp (with a gooey inside still). So oven temperature is also important. Because of Brunei's humid climate, make sure to keep meringues in an air-tight container. Otherwise, they get sticky really easily.

If you don't know where to get raw sugar (though it should be available in most supermarkets) just use normal granulated sugar. I've used this, to no ill effects. Raw sugar does add a little flavour, I admit.

And there you have it! It might be a bit tricky at first, but eventually, you'll get the hang of it. This is a big favorite with our house during Hari Raya. It was so popular, that once, we made loads and loads and gave a container each to all our relatives. Now that was exhausting... -_-;;

PS My meringues this time round look, a bit... well, strange. I am really out of practice -_- Ideally, they should hold their piped shape while they are baking. I don't know why my meringues expanded in the oven instead. Too much hot air, maybe :P But don't worry about the cracks, these are completely normal. Theough they really shouldn't be all that big -_- Oh well...

So yeah.... good luck in making these. Make them often enough, and you'll be a pro in no time at all. Just watch out for people on a sugar high ;)

1 comment:

  1. Actually, meringues don't have to be crisp on both the outside and inside. Many people prefer theirs with a chewy-soft interior and a delectable and crisp exterior, like Nigella, who adds a dash of balsamic vinegar to achieve this texture.