Meringues! ...are tricky little things. If you've ever messed up a batch, you know there are a few factors that will make you take some extra time making sure you are careful in your preparation. If you follow the steps you should be fine. Shortcuts will get you nowhere with these guys, really.
Aside from the fact that making them by hand can be pretty satisfying. They happen to be one of my favorite things to make. It's just so satisfying when you're all done.
Here are a few tips I learned from Cupcake Jemma to get your meringues just right.
First, a clean workspace is crucial. I know, I know your dishes are clean, but really. Clean your utensils and your bowl. If there's any oil on your tools it'll stifle the rise and you'll have to start all over. Not. Fun. So clean your bowl and whisk with vinegar to make sure any excess oil is obliterated. It takes a minute and it's a bit of a smelly pain, but you'll be glad you did.
Next tip, never, under any circumstances add your sugar before your eggs are whipped. Just don't bother. Eggs and cream of tarter, whipping, together, harmoniously. The cream of tartar helps to stabilize the mix to prevent any separating.
Add your sugar one tablespoon at a time, make sure it's blended before adding more. I like to whisk as I add the sugar. Then stop rub a tiny bit of the mixture between your fingers, make sure it's smooth, then add more sugar or keep mixing. If you're doing it by hand it takes between 1 1/2 - 2 minutes to beat it in completely.
Caster sugar is the sugar to use. I actually made these with powdered sugar, but there is a difference between the two sugars, which is annoying, I know. So if you want to be extra careful hunt down some caster (or castor) sugar, but like I said, I made mine with the powdered variety and I'd do it again.
Last tip, any egg yolk will mess up your meringues, any at all. Cold eggs separate better, but warm eggs are easier to whip. So it's fine to let them sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes before you start whipping. You can use the egg yolks for a hair mask while you're waiting.
- Preheat oven to 300°
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
- Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until they look very frothy and emulsified.
- Beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Make sure it's all blended in before adding the next tablespoon. You can take a small amount between your fingers to test for any grains of sugar.
- Repeat this process until all sugar is added in.
- Beat the mix until it's completely mixed and will come to a stiff peak. That means the peaks will stay up on their own. The mix should look a bit shiny, dense and be bit difficult to whip.
- Lastly, add in your vanilla.
- With a spoon scoop out desired amount onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Mine made 9, about the size of a heaping tablespoon.
- I like chewy meringues. So I set my over to 300° and let them cook for 25 minutes. Then, I let them set in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes with out opening the oven door.
- When they're done they should pull away from the parchment paper easily.