Meringues are pure nostalgia food to me.
They are to me what madeleines are to Proust. We bought them at street corners after school. Seriously! Not so-distant cousins of the beloved French Macarons, meringues are ethereally light and fragrant. Any additions to the basic egg white-sugar whipped mixture would be perfectly suitable, only, as always, short and sweet selection please! Coconut, lemon, coffee etc. Even nothing. Just meringues, plain.
The beauty is, they can be used just as is, or as a shell for a filling of fruit and whipped cream. They can also be linked side by side, just like the french Macarons, by a layer of filling or whipped cream.
Including all Meringues Variations. Scroll down!
What else is Pavlova, but giant meringue layers with whipped cream in between, and topped with berries? Once you understand the secret of meringues, and take the instructions of beating it until stiff very seriously, you are on your way, and they will become your playground to make quite a few wonderful desserts. Our kids enjoy them immensely on Pessach: alone, crumbled over ice cream, floating over a fruit sauce, topped with berries, you name it.
A good mixer or hand mixer makes all the difference
Get yourself a good brand mixer. You wouldn’t believe what a difference it makes. Same goes for all basic kitchen appliances. Sometimes, like on heavy duty Pessach Week Cooking, we tell ourselves, eh, why spend the extra money, I use it so infrequently. And then what happens is, we get impatient and frustrated because our blender or mixer or food processor is as sluggish and inept as a toy. And the other thing is, a good appliance costs only a little more than a bad one: Money excellently spent! In our home we hosted 34 fantastic epic Pessach weeks, seders and all, and my good quality appliances served me faithfully and efficiently all these years, and they still do!
Giving you my favorite Meringues Recipe:
With Chocolate and Hazelnuts: a combo I love to use: Take a look at my Chocolate Hazelnut Dacquoise!
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
Cocoa Hazelnut addition
- ½ cup pure cocoa powder
- 1 ¾ cups finely ground hazelnuts (or any nuts you like)
Preheat oven to 325 *F.
Beat the eggs with the salt till soft peaks form, then add the sugar gradually, beating constantly until the mixture is very stiff. Add the vinegar and beat just incorporated.
Up to this point, this is your basic meringue recipe
Add cocoa and beat until incorporated. Fold in the nuts very gently. Form small mounds 1 inch apart and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake 20 to 23 minutes, until the bottoms are just firm.
Same instructions, using only the basic batter (no cocoa, no nuts).
My own suggestions, but you can play with all any addition you like; Add to the batter, selecting one: 1 tablespoon vanilla extra; zest of 2 lemons or oranges; a tablespoon instant coffee powder, decaf OK; 1 tablespoon matcha tea powder; 1-2 tablespoons orange blossom water, or rose water; 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
If you want to use them for a filling, shape them with a plain tip, as circles 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and pipe a border all around, like a wall. Alternatively, make 2-3 larger circles (no border). Fill the shells with whipped cream and top with berries. Pareve: whip coconut cream.
In the case of one Pavlova, alternate the meringue layers with whipped cream layers. In this case, add the filling and toppings just before serving, so as to keep them nice and crunchy.