The easiest recipe in the world… honestly.
A Kitchenaid or similar stand mixer
Egg White 50%
Caster Sugar 100%
Optional: flavourings such as rose, lemon, violet or lavender
I am not kidding. It is that simple. The joy of this recipe is that you don’t have to count out egg whites, nor weigh, nor measure them according to a specific amount. Just take whatever you have, weight them and then weigh out double that amount of caster sugar. The only caveat is that if you have much less than 150g of egg white you won’t get very many meringues, but if you are making them as petit fours, or as a little addition to other tea party treats; 100g of egg white (about three) may well suffice. By the way; 300g of egg whites and 600g of sugar is about as much as my Kitcheanid will take, so if you have more you may have to work in batches.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the sugar on parchment paper on an oven tray and warm in the oven for about ten minutes. Do not leave any longer or in will start to melt and caramelise and is then no good.
While the sugar is warming, place the egg whites in a scrupulously clean metal bowl (ideally that of your Kitchenaid or similar) and beat with the whisk attachment until it becomes frothy. When the sugar is piping hot (ten minutes will do – don’t touch it to check!) remove it from the oven. Turn the oven down to 100C.
With the engine running on the mixer, slowly pour the hot sugar onto the eggs, holding onto the edges of the paper and using it as a sort of funnelling tool. Be very careful not to spill the hot sugar – it is agony if you drop it on yourself! Once all the sugar has been incorporated, turn up the mixer to full blast and whisk for a good three minutes or more. The mixture should now be cool, beautifully glossy and stiff (and certainly not moving when you lift the whisk attachment out). Do watch though, if you beat it too much the mixture will split at worst, or at best, weep when baking.
The mixture is robust enough to take a couple of drops of flavouring at this point (with the whisk still running). I add one teaspoon of rose syrup if using 150g of egg white and 300g of sugar. Lemon, lavender or violet syrup also all work well. For an Ottolenghi style, giant flavoured meringue, add rose syrup and then sprinkle with crushed pistachios; or perhaps add a few pinches of cinnamon and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Because you cook it long and low, the nuts or any sugary additions shouldn’t discolour or burn. Cocoa powder just folded in makes a lovely swirly effect, as does adding a few grains of instant coffee to half the mix and then barely stirring the two together.
I then bake them overnight like this for really dry meringues (best in the tropics as they will keep for a few days in an airtight container and won’t sweat as soon as you bring them to the table). For lovely ‘marshmallowy’ ones in normal climes, or for the brave in the humidity, bake for a couple of hours at 80C and remove as soon as they sound hollow if tapped on the bottom. For true perfection, you will have to sacrifice one and break it open to taste for precise done-ness. ‘Sacrifice’ being perhaps not entirely the correct term.