Get a grip.
Making meringues is dead simple. I promise. Forget everything you've been told and use your eyes. You know what a meringue looks like, right? So that's what it should look like when you pull it from the oven. If it doesn't, don't take it out. Obviously, you can't just leave them totally unattended, but opening the oven for a quick peek isn't going to cause a meringue disaster. I know, because I do it all the time.
- 4 large eggs
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 bar of chocolate of your choice
- Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees; you can sing along to the radio whilst you do this, if you want.
- Separate the yolks from the whites. I simply crack the egg into my hand and gently transfer from one hand to the other over the bowl.
- Whip the hell out of your whites. Unless you've recently won the "World's Strongest Woman" competition or seriously need to kill some time then may I recommend using an electric whisk?
- Once your eggs are whiter-than-white and peaky then add the caster sugar a bit at a time and fold in gently.
- Make sure everything is nicely mixed together and that all the sugar has dissolved.
- People think you should use grease-proof paper to cook meringue, and this is probably safest, but this time around I had run out, so took my chances on a decent non-stick baking tray - all was well and no one got hurt. Phew.
- Plonk a decent dollop of meringue in each corner of the baking tray, about an inch or so from the edges.
- Place in the centre of the oven (this is important) and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Keep an eye on progress - this is super-important. If your meringues are yellowing it means the heat is too high - you really have to trust your judgement and make small alterations to the time and heat according to your oven and what the meringues look like.
- Once they look like meringues (sound vague, I know, but that's just how meringue cooking goes!) then remove them from the oven and leave them the hell alone to cool. Some people say you must leave them to cool in the oven but I've never done this and mine always turn out just fine!
- Once they are completely cooled you can melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and paint over half the meringue, adding fresh fruit, sprinkles, chocolate flakes or whatever else you might fancy!