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Thursday 7 July 2011

Sluttishly Sweet: Chocolate-coated meringue

Everywhere you look (in food terms, at least) you'll find someone or other telling you how impossible it is to make a decent crunchy-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside meringue. You'll hear that you simply must add a pinch of cream of tartar or you'll get nowhere without a cleverly measured and scarily precise combination of both caster and icing sugar; that your eggs simply must be organic and room temperature, or that you'll fail miserably if all your equipment isn't absolutely scrupulously clean.

Get a grip.

Making meringues is dead simple. I promise. Forget everything you've been told and use your eyes. You know what a meringue looks like, right? So that's what it should look like when you pull it from the oven. If it doesn't, don't take it out. Obviously, you can't just leave them totally unattended, but opening the oven for a quick peek isn't going to cause a meringue disaster. I know, because I do it all the time.

You'll need:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 bar of chocolate of your choice
Make it!
  • Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees; you can sing along to the radio whilst you do this, if you want.
  • Separate the yolks from the whites. I simply crack the egg into my hand and gently transfer from one hand to the other over the bowl.
  • Whip the hell out of your whites. Unless you've recently won the "World's Strongest Woman" competition or seriously need to kill some time then may I recommend using an electric whisk?
  • Once your eggs are whiter-than-white and peaky then add the caster sugar a bit at a time and fold in gently.
  • Make sure everything is nicely mixed together and that all the sugar has dissolved.
  • People think you should use grease-proof paper to cook meringue, and this is probably safest, but this time around I had run out, so took my chances on a decent non-stick baking tray - all was well and no one got hurt. Phew.
  • Plonk a decent dollop of meringue in each corner of the baking tray, about an inch or so from the edges.
  • Place in the centre of the oven (this is important) and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Keep an eye on progress - this is super-important. If your meringues are yellowing it means the heat is too high - you really have to trust your judgement and make small alterations to the time and heat according to your oven and what the meringues look like.
  • Once they look like meringues (sound vague, I know, but that's just how meringue cooking goes!) then remove them from the oven and leave them the hell alone to cool. Some people say you must leave them to cool in the oven but I've never done this and mine always turn out just fine!
  • Once they are completely cooled you can melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and paint over half the meringue, adding fresh fruit, sprinkles, chocolate flakes or whatever else you might fancy!


  1. "You know what a meringue looks like, right? So that's what it should look like when you pull it from the oven. If it doesn't, don't take it out." This might be my all-time favourite line in a recipe.

    I suspected meringues were easy given how often they crop up on Come Dine With Me. I'm definitely going to give this a go.

  2. This is EXACTLY how I make meringues/pavlova, and I get so much stick from the bloody CWA brigade (I believe 'WI ladies' would be the UK equiv) for not including vinegar, salt, corn syrup, the blood of a newborn, all manner of unnecessary ingredients. They always turn out perfectly and everyone begs me to make them at every opportunity. Excuse my smug face.

  3. I braved making meringues earlier this week! I had leftover eggs whites and made Eton Mess (recipe next week). They're really really easy. Best thing about Eton Mess is that even if they're a bit rubbish, you can just bash them up and no one will know.

    Although, they're easier if you haven't lost one of the whisks from your electric whisker.

  4. I agree that I don't know what the fuss is about over making meringues, as they are easy!

    I don't normally do the 'leaving them in the oven to cool' thing, but I accidentally forget to take a pavlova out of the oven last week (although I had thankfully turned it off) and by morning it had the gooey-iest, most gorgeous inside ever - so I suspect there might be something in that theory!

  5. I couldn't work this recipe! :( I found the 190 deg burnt my meringue too quick and that not having greaseproof paper makes it even more impossible.

    Will try again though.


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