Unfortunately when this little girl grew up into a woman and tried piling meringue fairy castles up for her own children, I was hit was huge waves of dissapointment.
Flat. Sticky. Weeping. Gooey inside.
The meringue, not me.
Although I felt a little how it all looked, sagging there on the kitchen bench in delicious disarray. (Good thing you can still put failed meringue to good use with an Eton Mess Dessert)
I blamed it on the humid, tropical climate I moved up to. Then my sister in law Liz told me her mum, who long resided in the same climate as I do, made the best pavlovas despite the humidity. That made me feel a million dollars. It was official--I was a failure at meringue.
So as you may well guess, I went crazy trouble shooting meringue and all the possible mistakes I could be making that made my meringues so temperamental. To my joy I found I was correct about the humidity and rain playing a roll in its failure, so be sure that if you want to succeed, chose a dryer day if you can to get baking. Having said that, it's winter here and still 70% humidity and my meringues, using the below recipe for the ultimate meringue, formed glorious, crisp on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, non-weepy, non-gooey, non-sinky, gorgeous meringues. I think it might be fail proof. Finally.
I now have two favourite meringue recipes that have never failed me to this day. One I use for making Meringue Swans, and it does brown a bit, and has the most delicious crunchy outer and caramelly inner. But this recipe keeps its whiteness and I (almost) promise, you won't have any issues with it. Bon appetit!
ULTIMATE MERINGUE (From BBC Good Food)
4 large egg whites
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar
a few drops of food colouring if desired
Preheat the oven to 100C (110C for a fan forced oven).
Line two or three trays with baking paper and set aside. In a medium to large, clean and dry glass bowl, add the egg whites. Beat on medium speed until the whites stand up in stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted and they resemble fluffy clouds.
Turn up the speed to high and begin to add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time with 5 seconds in between each addition. (If you add the sugar too quickly, the meringue may weep at a later stage) You may add some food colouring at this stage if desired.
The mixture should look thick and glossy when it is ready--do not over beat.
Divide the icing sugar into three parts. Add the first part, and fold it into the mixture with a rubber spatula or big metal spoon. Repeat with the two remaining parts. Don't over-mix at this stage, just fold until the mixture looks smooth and billowy, like a snow drift.
Y0ou can place the meringue mixture in a ziplock bag fitted with a piping nozel and pipe the mixture as desired, or simply spoon the mixture onto the tray, using another spoon to help ease it off.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours in a fan oven, or 1 1/4 hours in a conventional oven. Meringues are ready when they feel dry to touch and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Meringues will store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, and can be frozen for a month.