This basic piped meringue is a light-as-air treat. Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands or coloured caster sugar for decoration. See the notes for baking times.
• Only use cold egg whites straight from the refrigerator. It also helps to chill the bowl beforehand.
• Even the smallest trace of fat in the bowl or trace of yolk in the egg white will stop the egg white from becoming stiff, so take care not to damage the eggs when separating them.
• When piping the mixture onto the baking tray, avoid making long peaks as these quickly go brown during the drying process.
• Place meringues on a wire rack when done. They're easy to remove from the baking paper. They should be crisp to the touch, dry inside and not browned.
• Remove meringues that are to be filled with cream 1 hour early from the oven. Gently make an indent in the bottom, then return meringues to the oven to finish drying. To serve, pipe cream into a meringue shell; place a second one on top.
Oven temperature 200°C; middle rack; cooking time 2–3 minutes, then switch off oven and dry for 8–12 hours.
Oven temperature 100–120°C; middle rack; drying time 2–3 hours
• Try piping the meringue mixture into different shapes: rosettes, rings or stars, or as wavy lines on a fruit tart. The mixture can also be tinted with 1–2 drops of food colouring.
• The mixture turns an attractive pale brown if 1–2 tbsp of instant coffee or cocoa powder are dissolved in 1 tablespoon water and folded into egg white mixture with icing sugar and cornflour.
• Try downsizing. Using the basic recipe, make 40 small meringues. Pipe dots onto prepared baking tray and dry slowly for 1–2 hours.