MAKES ABOUT 6 DOZEN
Got egg whites? Meringues are the easiest and most exotic dessert to make with leftover egg whites, or if you just want to start from scratch with fresh eggs or powdered egg whites. Meringhe (meringues) are an Italian favorite, and big, wispy, puffs of them are always piled high in pastry shop windows. It is believed that they were invented in the Swiss town of Meringen by an Italian chef, Gasparini, between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. They can be flavored with extracts, citrus zests, chopped nuts, chocolate, and dried fruits. They are a special treat for children when formed into cream puff size, served with a scoop of ice cream, and they are a wonderful addition to a dinner party served with a fresh berry sauce. The best part is that they are fast to make and once in the oven, you can almost forget about them.
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 250F.
Use a stand mixer to beat the whites on medium speed until they are foamy; add salt and cream of tartar; increase the speed to high, and whip until medium peaks form; slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form; beat in extract and vinegar.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Fill the bag half full with the meringue and pipe out mounds of 1-inch diameter, spacing them a little apart. Or use two teaspoons to drop about a tablespoon-size amount onto the baking sheets.
Bake the meringues for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not open the oven while they are baking. Turn off the oven and allow them to remain in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the meringues to cool on them before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Variations: Fold nuts, chopped chocolate, minced dried fruits, crushed toffee or peppermint candy, or other favorites into the batter after they are beaten to stiff peaks.
This recipe is featured on show 1716, Meringues — Meringhe.
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