Do you have a recipe that reminds you of your childhood? My mum’s meringues were a big part of my food story growing up. We’ve all lost count of the number of meringues Mum made over the years for us, for parties, for local school events, or for no particular reason.
We had chickens in the backyard so we always had a ready supply of eggs. Since meringues are essentially egg whites and sugar, it wasn’t a stretch on the pantry to pull these together as often as we liked.
We now have backyard chickens ourselves, carrying on that childhood tradition to the next generation. This time I took the trouble to weigh the eggs produced for us by our chickens and, just for the record, the eggs had an average weight of 60g.
I have memories of the oven door being propped slightly ajar with a wooden spoon overnight as the freshly cooked meringues were allowed to cool in their own good time. I also have memories of these meringues turning up at many events at our small local primary school where Mum was a regular volunteer. Actually, I caught up with an old friend from my primary school a couple of years ago and she too had fond memories of Mum’s meringues and even asked me for the recipe!
Strangely enough, I also have many memories of these meringues being blue in colour. I was never sure at the time why we had blue meringues, although I’ve recently learned the reason from Mum: blue food colouring is the one colour that has a big impact without adding unnecessary liquid to the mixture. Just a couple of drops has enough of an effect to colour the whole bowlful of the other ingredients.
My mum’s meringue and pavlova recipe
This recipe can be used for either smaller meringues or one large pavlova, approx. 23cm (9 inch) diameter. Adjust the cooking time for the larger pavlova.
Cooking meringues or pavlova is, in theory, fairly straightforward, but there are plenty of hazards along the way that can give you a less than ideal result. Cooking them too quickly at too high a temperature can cause the outer shell of the meringues to become brittle and crack. Too gentle a heat and the insides will still be too soft. Humidity / moisture can lead to softening and weeping – a sad state of affairs!
But, once you get your oven in the right zone and keep the moisture away, it’s really quite easy to make these sweet treats. Naturally gluten and dairy free, they make a simple dessert or special treat. Eat them as is, or shape them into small bowl shapes before cooking to fill with cream and/or fruit as you serve the meringues.
And, if you like, you could make them blue.
What are your sweetest memories of food from your childhood (or just your memories of sweet food)?