Christmas Recipe: Ben’s Big Meringays!

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From the South Canterbury foothills, express hunted down a rare find, a rugged South Island man who can cook! Proud Bear Ben Payne pops on his piney and shares a festive recipe sure to thrill the tastebuds.

Christmas is nearly upon us and the hollow soulless sounds of Michael Boobs and Mariah Carey are about to become triggering. Welcome to my kitchen where I’ve been rustling up a few low effort, fail-free Christmas treats. Admittedly, Lockdown was substantially shorter down here on the South Island. However, it still provided ample time for me to fire up the Aga and channel vibes of a masc-ish Martha Stewart – sans the record of insider-trading!

Meringays are just like me on Grindr – full of air and not much substance!

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Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • plus your choice of flavourings (see below)

Method

STEP 1

Heat oven to 120C fan bake. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and set up a piping bag with a medium-size star nozzle (I used a spoon).

STEP 2

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until very stiff – the whites should stand in stiff, not floppy, and peak when the beaters are lifted out. Once you have reached this point, pour in roughly half the sugar and the vanilla extract and whisk again until the mixture becomes very thick, firm and shiny. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again until thick, firm and shiny again. If you like meringues with soft, mallowy centres (I don’t), just add 1 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp white wine vinegar to the mix along with the sugar.

At this point, you can leave the meringays plain, or you can add your chosen flavours.

STEP 3

Spoon the meringue into the piping bag and pipe onto your lined baking sheets. If you don’t have a piping bag use a spoon to and scoop even whip onto the tray. You can make the meringays as small or large as you like and adjust the cooking time according. The meringues will spread slightly as they cook, so leave enough space between each one. Bake in the oven for 1 hr, turning the heat down to 120C/100C fan after 30 mins.

I turn the oven off and let them sit (even overnight) to cool and harden.  However, you can remove from the oven – they should peel easily away from the parchment – and cool on a wire rack.

Some camp-as-folk flavour suggestions and adjusted cooking times:

CITRUS SWIRL MERINGAYS

Gently fold zest of one orange and ¼ tsp of yellow food colouring into the basic meringue mix, then spoon 4-6 large shapes onto baking parchment covered baking sheets. Bake for 45 mins at 140C/120C fan/gas 1, then for a further 45 mins at 120C/100C fan/gas ½.

CHOCOLATE MERINGAYS

Finely grate a small knob of plain chocolate and chill while you make the meringue. Fold 1 tbsp of cocoa powder into the basic mix, then spoon 4-6 large shapes onto baking parchment-covered baking sheets. Scatter with the grated chocolate and bake for 45 mins at 140C/120C fan/gas 1, then for a further 45 mins at 120C/100C fan/gas ½.

TURKISH DELIGHT MERINGAYS

Make the basic meringue mix minus the vanilla extract, then gently fold in ¼ tsp rose water and ¼ tsp red or pink food colouring. Mix in some dried cranberries and sprinkle some edible glitter to camp them up a bit and add a festive vibe. Shape and bake as in the basic meringue recipe.

PISTACHIO WHITE CHOCOLATE MERINGAYS

Gently fold with some grated white cholate and chopped pistachios (or other nuts of choice) and a few drops of green food colouring (if you please)  into the basic meringay mix, then spoon 4-6 large shapes onto baking parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 45 mins at 140C/120C fan/gas 1, then for a further 45 mins at 120C/100C fan/gas ½.

Merry Christmas & Enjoy!

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