Friday, 19 June 2009

Toffee meringues, blackberries & cream.

There was a small cupful of egg whites in the freezer, and upon finding that there was nothing else interesting to bake with in the cupboards, decided to try my hand at something new.

Meringue, fruit and cream isn't an original combination by any stretch of the imagination, but I really had forgotten just what a good one it is.
I called these 'toffee' meringues because the muscavado sugar gives them a gorgeous buff colour and toffee-like taste. I was going to christen them 'burnt sugar meringues' but decided that sounded a bit too pretentious! So toffee it is.
If we must get technical about it, these are actually mini pavlovas - the addition of cornflour and vinegar makes them so. But, hey, does it really matter? They taste bloody brilliant.

5 egg whites
200g brown granulated sugar
150g light or dark muscavado
2 tsp cornflour
splash of vanilla
1 tsp vinegar

How to do it:
Preheat oven to gas 4/180°C
1. Whisk the egg whites until they hold firm peaks.
2. Add the sugar slowly, spoonful by spoonful, beating after each addition.
3. Once the mix is thick and glossy, fold in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Spoon onto a paper-lined baking sheet.
4. Stick in the oven, close the door and immediately turn the heat down to gas 2/150°C.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, then switch off the oven, leaving the meringues in there for about half an hour.
6. Sandwich with whipped cream and serve with a tumble of fruit alongside (blackberries for preference).

The home oven is completely unreliable, so I go by eye for everything which is not a great idea for something as exacting as meringues! But I didn't find them too scary - as long as they're baked at a low-ish temperature, you'll be fine. I started off at roughly gas 4, immediately went down lower, thought they weren't cooking so whacked the heat up a bit more, and then switched it off completely. They turned out lovely though! And as you can see, I had no greaseproof paper so used foil instead. It was absolutely fine, you just have to peel them off rather nimbly.
I also foolishly did this recipe by hand. Suffice to say, my arm just about dropped off.
Also, I think my mix wasn't quite stiff enough - I didn't even contemplate doing the bowl over head test! So it's probably best doing it in a machine.

If you're in the UK, look out for 'king' blackberries. I think they may be exclusive to M&S. They are absolutely stunning fruit. The normal variety are delicious, but these, these are something else.

I honestly haven't enjoyed a dessert as much as I enjoyed this - the meringues were crisp and chewy, the cream soft and thick, the berries slightly tart and staining everything a gorgeous purple.
My little heart is all aflutter with joy after the first attempt at these worked!


  1. I think I have to try to make this one now. I'm not sure how the conversion to Americun will go but I promise to tell you if it's a massive disaster.

  2. Sophie they look lovely. I love the idea of using brown sugar. Nice and toffeeish. Brilliant

  3. as for the meringues, i think your word should be "exacting" rather than "exact." forgive me. can't help myself. once an editor, always an editor. lemon meringue pie is by far my favorite dessert, albeit i am not too much into sweets ... thanks for your returned summer wishes ... yes, your promise qualifies ...

  4. Alex - definitely, I would love to hear how you get on!
    RG - thanks ^-^ I'm having a love affair with muscavado at the moment.
    Stephen - you are absolutely right, as usual. I rushed that part and foolishly didn't do my usual proof read.