White meringues make a stunning and elegant dessert, and they're surprisingly easy to whip up - if you follow a few simple rules (see tips below).
- Heat oven to 100 deg C. Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl and whisk until soft peaks of mixture hold their shape.
- Add vanilla and a tablespoonful of the measured sugar. Whisk until stiff, then slowly add remaining sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, while whisking continuously. Continue whisking for two minutes more until the sugar is dissolved and incorporated and the mixture is glossy.
- Spoon or pipe the mixture into moundson prepared trays. Bake for 1½ hours until meringues are hard and dry. Remove to cool.
- Store hard meringues in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Sandwich meringues together with whipped cream to serve.
Tip: Egg whites need to be at room temperature (as opposed to fridge-cold); you will get a greater whipped volume from warmer egg whites.
Tip: It is important to whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl as any traces of grease can make the egg whites harder to whip and decrease volume. Use a glass or metal bowl to achieve maximum volume.
Tip: Whipped egg whites can begin to collapse soon after beating, so add the sugar as soon as the egg whites have formed soft peaks.
Tip: To test if the sugar is properly dissolved, rub a bit of the beaten meringue mixture between your fingers. It should feel smooth. If it is grainy, then continue beating until the sugar is dissolved.
Tip: To make perfectly round meringues, trace circles of the desired size on to the baking paper. Pipe or spoon the meringue inside the circles, allowing room for the meringues to expand a little during cooking.
Tip: Make sure the meringues are cold before filling, and fill just before serving, or they will lose their crispness.