Wednesday, 11 December 2013
In Australia, the closest we get to anything white at this time of year is pavlova, a show-stopper dessert made with egg whites and sugar, served cold in place of pudding on Christmas Day. Topped with cream and summer fruit it's perfect for our stinking hot late December weather and curious custom of eating smack bang in the middle (ie: the hottest part) of the day. Meringues are like pavlova's little sister(s). Sweet, snowy and swirly with the same crunchy exterior and pillowy, marshmallow-like interior, they're great anytime, anywhere and for almost anyone - an easy solution to dinner party dessert dilemmas if you have gluten or dairy-intolerant guests.
Meringues are good all by themselves of course, but better still topped with complementary tastes and textures: soft cream, tangy yoghurt, fresh fruit, crunchy nuts... really, you can dress them up any way you like. My favourite is with a dollop of cream, some lemon or lime curd and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios.
Happy Christmas. Happy holidays. Happy summer. Winter. Wednesday. Whenever. Just happy.
Recipe adapted from Stephanie Alexander's incomparable A Cook's Companion
This is a genius way to use up extra egg whites. I made a double batch as I had four egg whites, which yielded six large meringues.
2 egg whites, at room temperature
120g caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 150 deg C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat egg whites til stiff peaks form, then add sugar, a little at a time, still beating. Beat in vanilla. Place spoonfuls of meringue on baking tray and cook for 45 minutes. Turn oven off, leave door slightly ajar and allow meringues to cool completely in oven.
Serve with whipped cream, lemon or lime curd, and chopped pistachios.