Snow fell today. The sky was dark. The birds stood braced against the gale. So I stayed inside and made Christmas spiced meringues. I'm product testing some of Zing organics fabulous sugars just now, so added a spoonful of cardamom sugar to the nutty spice mix and the meringue mix. I may have to eat all of these meringues myself!
The thing that I love about meringues is that they are completely versatile in terms of the flavourings you can throw into the mix. The thing about actually making them is that you have to whisk them for way more than you think you do. I have a big Kenwood mixer - powerful and utilitarian - and once the sugar and any flavouring has been added to the lightly whisked egg whites I then whisk on full power for 10 MINUTES.. then when you spoon them onto trays, they hold themselves firm in a big ball: You should be able to roll them in toppings; plop them off the spoon onto trays - and they STILL HOLD THEIR SHAPE. That is the secret, if ever there was one, to making the perfect meringue!
(note - I refer to oz in this recipe because the basic premise is that you use double the weight of sugar to egg whites and it works best in oz!!)
12 egg whites (use the yolks for ice cream and for frangipane - you can freeze them)
21 oz castor sugar
2 oz of ZING cardamom sugar (or make your own by bashing 8 cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar - removing the husk after the first bashing)
2 oz chopped hazelnuts
1oz roughly chopped pistachios
1oz cardamon sugar
A shake of cinnamon
4 sticks of rhubarb
3 oz brown sugar
The grated zest of 1 orange
Mix the topping ingredients together.
For the meringues,whisk the egg whites until frothy and slowly add the sugars and then beat for at full power for at least 10 mins and until the egg whites completely hold their shape when balled onto a spoon. Using 2 dessert spoons, scoop up the meringue mix into a ball shape. Drop into the topping mix and then quickly scoop up the meringue and put on a baking tray lined with bakewell paper. Bake at 120 degrees for 2 hours or until they feel crisp, top and bottom.
Cool the meringues on wire tray.
For the rhubarb coulis, roughly chop the rhubarb, place on buttered baking tray and mix through the sugar and the orange zest. Bake in hot oven (200 degrees) until soft. Zap in food processor and cool. (this coulis could be diluted with a bit of fresh orange juice and is delicious dropped into the bottom of a champagne glass and topped with prosecco!)
Serve the meringues with either whipped double cream or creme fraiche, topped with the rhubarb coulis and a shake of icing sugar.
Note - you can buy Zing sugars from zing organics. (You could also use their nutmeg sugar instead, and I would add a bit more to the nut mixture as well, along with a bit more cinammon.)
The candle burning in the background is also from Zing Organics.
(Zing Organics provided me with the sugars in order to sample them. The opinions are my own. Zing sugars come in 75g bags (about 3 oz).