I'm not sure who it was that first recognized that if you beat egg whites together with a bit of sugar and then baked it that you could come up with a heavenly concotion as light as a cloud and quite blissfully as tasty . . .
I only know that I am glad that they did.
Simple ingredients, simple techniques . . . marry together in a wonderful union of un-parralled success . . . eat them plain, or whip up some heavy cream and sandwhich them together. You could break them up and fold them into some gently whipped cream along with some crushed berries, or like me . . . you could just sit there and bit into it, relishing every glorious, meltingly sweet pillow like bite . . . the choice is yours.
A few things to remember . . .
Always start with eggs that are more than a few days old. Very fresh eggs will not create as voluminous mixture.
Make sure your whisk and bowl are scrupulously clean. Any hint of fat at all will prevent your whites from reaching their full potential.
Avoid making meringues on a humid day. The extra moisture in the air will be absorbed by the meringues, making them soften and get quite sticky . . . not a good thing in a meringue . . . you want crisp and light.
*Big and Fluffy Almond Meringues*
Makes about 6 large or 12 small
These lovely meringues are light and crisp. You don't have to add the toasted almonds, but I think they add a nice touch. These are delicious served with fresh berries and softly whipped cream, or make smaller ones and sandwich them together with some whipped cream in the middle.
4 large free range organic egg whites, at room temperature
115g caster sugar
115g sifted icing sugar
1 small package of flaked almonds (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 110*C/ 225*F. Line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a large glass mixing bowl. Whip with an electric whisk until they resemble fluffy clouds and hold their shape when you life the beaters out of the bowl. Gradually start beating in the caster sugar, one tablespoonful at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. (Try hard not to overbeat it) Fold in the icing sugar a third at a time, being careful, once again, not to overmix. You want it to be fluffy and cloudlike.
Spoon large dollops of the mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches or so between each one. If you are making smaller ones, spoon tablespoonful's onto the baking sheet. Scatter the flakes almonds over all, if using. Bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until they are very crisp on the bottom and sound hollow when tapped on the bottoms. They should be very lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
You may now use them as you wish.