Meringues – the quickest party food to make at short notice, and so easy. There are a myriad of things you can do with them – serve them on their own, make meringue sandwiches with a cream filling, flavour them, colour them, or pile them high into a meringue mountain which is my favourite thing to do.
Best served with champagne to cut through the cloying sweetness.
Make meringues – flavour and colour of your choice – and pile up croquembouche style sandwiched together with vanilla cream.
Here is my no fail meringue recipe, originally from Margaret Fulton, via an old recipe of my mother.
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.
Add your flavouring at this point or food colour. In the images below I made pink rosewater meringues as well as plain ones.
Spoon or pipe onto prepared trays. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better. When cool, store in an airtight container.
As this Quirky writer is a fan of all things rustic, I like my meringues free form – but you could certainly pipe them for a more formal effect!
Assemble your meringue mountain in whatever way takes your fancy. I decorated the pink and white rosewater meringue mountain with crystallized rose petals.
The concept for “Meringue Mountain” originated with the sister of Quirky, a very creative and colourful cook!
Note from Quirky sister:
“I make an even easier version using plain meringues cemented with vanilla flavoured whipped cream. This is great for children’s parties, afternoon teas or to serve at a dinner party. The mountain can be either passed around and individual meringues plucked from it or the meringues can be served in clumps in bowls.
I sometimes colour the cream pale pink or green and decorate the spaces between the meringues. I have used crystallised violets and rose petals – but easier and I think more effective are fresh flowers providing of course they are not remotely poisonous.
For an afternoon tea for another of Quirky’s sister’s 70th birthday I used pink plum blossom. The drought had killed most of our violets and I needed to improvise. Violet leaves or vine leaves can also be arranged in a circle to frame the base of the mountain to great effect. These are just some of the things which I do. I am sure other mountain makers will have loads more ideas.
One thing I have promised myself I will do one day is to use chocolate as decoration by moulding dark chocolate on camellia leaves. This technique was first shown to me by our former neighbour, a conservator and always consummately creative.”
The meringue mountain below is made up of sour cherry meringues and chocolate meringues. The recipes for these meringues are from delicious. December2012/January2013.