I am a bit of a meringue freak. I don’t make it often, though, for a variety of reasons. First of all, meringues use plenty of egg white, but not the yolks. If “m making meringue, I’m not going to do it by halves and just use two or three eggs. No sir. I used a whole dozen. Now there are twelve yolks sitting in my fridge waiting for Passover to end so that they can become lime pie. Do you see now why I don’t do this more often? It’s dangerous!
But meringue can be had so many ways. Soft and fluffy over a pie, crisp and crunch in a small cookie to dip in hot chocolate or slater with peanut butter, and of course, half-baked. A half-baked meringue is crispy on the outside, but a delicate sponge inside. The texture is almost that of an angel food cake with a crust. And it is delightful.
Ingredients (makes three monster sized half baked meringues, or two monsters plus two littler ones, or a lot of eensy little ones.)
vinegar to wipe down bowl*
12 egg whites
2 3/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt from a very possessive salt owl
*wiping down the bowl with vinegar is a bit of a superstition of mine. If your bowl is not 100% dry or has a smidge of oil in it, the world will not end, nor will your egg foam. I do it because my grandmother used to, and because I kind of like the smell of vinegar. I’m weird like that.
Break and separate a lot of eggs. Incidentally, this:
is why you shouldn’t be too impressed with the architectural skills of honeybees. When tightly packed circles (or bees) press on each other, the circles become hexagons all on their own. It’s just physics. Now stop distracting me and break some more eggs!
That is a lot of yolks. Cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge. I’ll teach you how to make lime pie in a few days.
The egg whites need a nice big bowl, as they are about to start taking up a lot more volume. Toss in a pinch of salt and start whipping.
Then whip some more.
Then add the sugar in a slow stream and whip until the whole mass is thick and fluffy and the surface holds a certain amount of definition. Remember, overwhipping is just as disastrous as underwhipping, and much harder to fix!
I honestly just scooped with a 1-cup measuring cup onto a sheet of parchment paper. I drew circles on the paper first, then flipped it over, to get the bobs at least round. You could get all kinds of fancy with piping tips, but I honestly think it’s more fun to eat a blob. Plus I didn’t want to wash the fiddly little pastry nozzles.
Toss them in the oven at 250F for an hour and a half. When you pull them out, they’ll have a delightful eggshell color and sound hollow if you tap on them gently. Tap hard, and they will explode.
Sometimes a bit of egg ends up not quite whipped enough and leaks out a bit at the bottom. That bit is fun, too–it tastes like hard candy!
If you want them crisp all the way through, leave them in the oven for a full two and a half hours, then turn the oven off but don’t remove the meringues until they’re cool. This is less fun because you have to wait like three hours for dessert, and also it bears no resemblance to angel food cake. I didn’t actually check the internal temperature of the half baked ones, so theoretically I suppose the presence of Salmonella is possible. Of course, the small carnivores probably carry Toxoplasmosis on their disgusting paws, and the even smaller carnivores,
those girls, definitely carry Salmonella, but that doesn’t stop me letting them clamber on me when they feel like it. It takes a really large and impressive salmonella culture to infect a healthy person, and and hour and a half at 250F should probably kill any bacterial cells. Still, if you don’t want to risk it, crisp them all the way through. Or, you know, stop eating eggs.