How to make meringues

Home-made meringues are delicious and simple to make. All you need are egg whites, castor sugar and whisking skills. This recipe makes eight meringue nests and you'll need the whites from two eggs and 110g of caster sugar.

First pre heat your oven to 150 degrees C, that's 130 degrees in a fan oven or gas mark two.

Now, it's really important that your bowl is free from any grease and rubbing half a lemon around the inside of the bowl and then just wiping it dry with some kitchen towel will make sure it's really clean and that way your egg whites will be able to reach their full volume.

So place two egg whites into your bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes; this also helps to produce lighter meringues. Using an electric hand whisk on a low speed, whisk for about two minutes until the whites are foamy. Then switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for another minute. Finally, turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites reach the stiff peak stage.

Now you can tell when the egg whites are done because if you turn the bowl upside down slowly, they won't come out, so these are ready. Next you need to add 110g of caster sugar a dessert spoon at time. As a rule, you need 55g of sugar for every large egg white and you don't have to use caster sugar; meringues are delicious made with soft brown sugar too.

If you like chewy meringues, at this stage you could add 4 teaspoons of corn flour and 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. You could also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for flavour.

Now, at this stage when you've added all the sugar, you should have a stiff, glossy mixture. So you need to take two baking trays lined with baking paper - just secure each corner with a little blob of the meringue mix. Spoon four heaped dessert spoons of the mixture onto each tray, space them evenly as they will rise and spread a little. Use the back of your spoon to hollow out the centre to make a nest. You could also make one large meringue in the same way.

Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140 degrees C, that's 120 in a fan oven or gas mark one, and bake for 30 minutes. If you're baking one large meringue, bake for 50 minutes.

Once cooked, turn off the oven and leave the meringues to dry out and cool off in the warmth of the oven for about four hours or overnight. Once your meringues are completely cool they can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. And then they're ready to fill with fresh cream and your favourite berries. Light, crisp and delicious through and through, meringues.

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