My enthusiasm turned to frustration within minutes. There wasn't enough egg white to bind the specified amount of icing sugar into a pliable paste. The marble-sized balls of meringue puffed up dramatically, and then flattened out to burnt-sugar discs. Some of them caught fire. Others unfurled and then exploded. I tried shortening the cooking time, but the 'meringues' turned into sticky globs. Those bits that did escape incineration tasted like over-sugared air.
But, by gad, I was not going to be defeated. Three batches later, after much experimentation and swearing, I'd used almost a kilogram of icing sugar, covered the kitchen in a sticky layer of goo, and stained my fingers in all the colours of the rainbow. But I had what looked, and almost tasted like, a meringue. The flattening problem was fixed by using paper cups (instead of placing blobs on a piece of baking paper); the explosion issue was resolved by cooking at least six meringues at a time.
Six important points about this recipe. First, the drawbacks:
-These are not true meringues: their texture is too dusty, they are overly sweet, and they have none of the delicate, billowing loveliness of a proper oven-dried meringue.
-You will need to experiment with the cooking times. Every microwave oven is different, and it may take a few tries before you figure out the optimum number of seconds - and yes, seconds count here - it takes to cook the meringues to a perfect crispiness. For this reason, I recommend that you make a double batch of the paste (cover whatever you're not using with clingfilm) to allow for mistakes.
Now the reasons I like this recipe:
- These are a perfect, last-minute sweetie-treat for birthday parties and cake sales. They are quick to make, and look very pretty, especially when sprinkled, just before cooking, with edible cake glitter.
- This is a wonderful recipe to make with kids: there is something magical about the way the meringues puff up, quadrupling in size, as they cook.
- These are a great standbye if you're making Eton Mess, or any recipe that calls for crumbled meringues (but do omit the food colouring).
- They remain super-crispy for at least 12 hours, and get crispier the longer they stand.
Magic Marbled Microwave Meringues
3 cups (750 ml) icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract or essence
edible cake glitter (optional)
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Put the egg whites and vanilla into a separate, small bowl, and whisk very lightly for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is lightly frothed and smooth, with no gloopy bits. Make a well in the centre of the icing sugar, and add a tablespoon of the egg white/vanilla mix. Using a spoon, or your fingers, mix well, adding a little more egg white as you go - less than a teaspoon at a time - so that you end up with a rather stiff, but pliable, paste. If you add too much egg white, and the mixture seems too runny, sift some more icing sugar into the bowl.
Tip the paste onto a board covered with a sheet of baking paper and knead lightly with your fingertips for a minute. Poke two holes, using a fingertip, into the paste. Add a few drops of different food colouring to each hole. Lightly knead the paste again, twisting and turning as you go, to achieve a marbled effect. If you don't want to stain your fingers, wrap the paste in a big piece of clingfilm or put it in a polythene bag.
Make the meringues six at a time. Pinch off pieces of the paste (the size of a large marble) and place each one in a paper case. Sprinkle with a little edible cake glitter, if you have it. Cover the remaining paste to prevent if from drying out. Arrange the six paper cases in a circle on the turntable of your microwave oven. Set the
Makes about 40 'meringues' Print Friendly