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There seems to be a bit of a mystery about making meringues and they have the reputation of being difficult to make. Perhaps because they are so easy, those in the know are keeping the secret to themselves.  I always think that most recipes can be adapted but this is one that needs to be mastered before you tinker with the ingredients.  After all there are only two ingredients to them and the real secret is in the beating – if a secret at all.

These were my brother’s favourite sweet.  When I was a child my older brother was seriously ill and had spent several years in hospital, then towards the end of his stay he would be allowed home for the weekend.  Of course everything at home had to be perfect for these weekend visits.  All his favourite meals were prepared and an order to the local baker would be placed for a box of fresh cream meringues. These involved two plump oval meringues sandwiched with fresh cream topped with a cherry, a sprinkling of nuts and then packed with five others into a white cardboard box, which was then tied up with red ribbon.

hen Saturday came I would be duly despatched to go and collect them.  This for me would entail a dawdle on the way there, taking great interest in the plants along the hedgerow and a short fantasy – I was a bit of a dreamer as a child so would invent all sorts of scenarios with me being the heroine of the day. Other Saturday pick ups might involve a detour to the swings, but I knew once the precious box of meringues were collected it was straight home with only a very slight hope of getting a taste of one of these delicacies.  Of course there was not a hope in hell, for my brother would wolf the lot down in one.  Even when I went to the bakers with my mother, and was asked which cake I would like, I often pointed to the fresh cream meringues only to be told they were too fancy and sophisticated for a little girl like me, no mention that they were fine for my big brother to wolf down in one!

My Meringue eating brother Rudy

As the years rolled by these remained my brother’s favourites, and whenever I visited him I would always make him a box full, and he would never disappoint me in wolfing the lot down in one without a morsel offered my way.

So like a lot of food we eat and things we smell, making meringues always reminds me of my brother Rudy and the sheer gluttony he had for them.

Meringues

Ingredients

Whites of 2 eggs

4 oz caster sugar

1 oz granulated sugar

Oven needs to be turned on to Gas mark 1/4 /225F.

Wipe the bowl you are putting the egg whites in – there needs to be no trace of grease.

Beat these until stiff and peaky.  Add some of the caster sugar and beat again and keep adding until all the sugar has been used up.  I normally beat these on medium speed on my Kenwood mixer or fast speed on my hand held mixer for at least five solid minutes.  The mixture will turn into a glossy creamy texture and when you lift the mixer blades out the egg whites should form stiff white peaks that don’t collapse.

At this point add the granulated sugar and fold into the mixture.

A baking tray needs to be lined with greaseproof paper (to hold the edges down just dab a little of the meringue mixture on each corner and it will stick the paper to the tray).

You have two choices here, either put the whole mixture onto the greaseproof paper and with a knife mould into a round disc, drawing the edges up to form a sort of bowl or put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe ovals of meringue onto the paper (should make approx 16) or use two dessert spoons, one to form the oval and one to push it off the other spoon.

Bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours.  Remove from the oven, carefully separate them from the paper, turn them upside down and return to the oven for a further hour.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Meringues store well in an airtight container but they are best eaten at their peak, which is just cooled from the oven.

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