Last night I made meringue, something I haven't done for 15 years. In Bulgaria meringues are called "целувки" which translates to kisses. Swedes call it "maränger". The idea of meringues on top of walnuts may not necessarily be Bulgarian, but that's the only place I've encountered it in the form below. And because they are so small, it's so easy to eat too many.
I followed the recipe for a Pavlova in Delia Smith's big book, but I discovered an inconsistency in my edition - the recipe says 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar, but looking at the conversion table at the beginning of the book, 1 oz = 25 g. This would put the recipe out by 25 g. In fact 1 oz is 28.34 g. A search on the internet for more information on meringue, it perspired that actually it's the proportions between the two main ingredients - egg whites and sugar that matter. It should be 1 part egg whites to 2 parts sugar per weight.
Traditionally in Bulgaria only icing sugar is used, but the recipes I found called mainly for caster sugar. Also there was talk of French meringue, Swiss meringue and Italian meringue. The ones I made are the French variety.
3 large egg whites
175 g icing sugar
pecan and/or walnut halves
- Make sure all utensils and the bowl used are clean and dry as any amount of grease will ruin the meringues. Whisk the whites to soft peak stage. I. e. when you pull out the whisk, the peaks the form will slowly fold down, but if you turn the bowl upside down, the foam will stay.
- Add the sugar a little at the time, while whisking.
- Preheat the oven at gas mark 2 (electrical 130 degrees C).
- Cover a baking sheet with baking paper and lay out the nut halves, flat side down. They can be placed fairly close to each other, as the meringue doesn't rise.
- Pipe the meringue mixture over them - not too much to completely cover them, though.
- Place in the oven and turn down to gas mark 1 (electrical 110 degrees C) and bake for 1 h.
- When done, turn off the oven and leave until the meringues cool and dry out completely. Delia is right in doing them in the evening and just leaving overnight.
For the piping, I always mean to buy a proper piping bag and never get around to do so. Instead, I've saved the different piping caps that come with the colourful icing tubes I use for my gingerbread houses. Then, I take a regular plastic bag for food storing, cut a small hole on one corner at the bottom and put the piping cap through. I place the bag in a tea mug and drape the top edge over the mug, then transfer the meringue mixture into it and pipe away.
I'm keen on trying out the Swiss and Italian meringues, so watch this blog.
Here are some of the links that I found interesting:
Description with pictures and explanation of the science behind meringues
Update 15 July 2007: Needless to say these disappeared alarmingly quickly - they were so fluffy and light, it's was easy to just keep eating from the tin. I'll make more next time!