Christmas Countdown Gifts: Mini Meringues

At the weekend I took Nick to London as part of his Christmas present. I bought tickets to Feast London, an indoor collection of some of London’s finest street food vendors including Pizza Pilgrims, Mishkins, Anna Maes and Lucky Chip. It was so good. I was pretty happy because I got to try hot chocolate and a fiery ginger biscuit from Lily Vanilli which was incredible. We drank mulled negroni and spiced cider from Background Bars, ate as much food as we could find room for and then had to go back to the hotel for a nap before we could even contemplate venturing further into the city. 

Saturday night we strolled around Covent Garden and then Leicester Square, turning down different streets and discovering parts of London I know we’d never find again if we went and looked. I spotted so many Byron burger joints but we ended up eating at The Diner. I’d had some great suggestions for places to take Nick but in the end we still weren’t that hungry from Feast so I had a reuben, Nick had a BBQ chicken burger and we shared a sweet potato fries. I was impressed by The Diner and their Four Roses Bourbon was one of the nicest bourbons I’ve had. I’m not a big drinker but I really love a good bourbon.

On Sunday morning we went to get brunch at The Breakfast Club in Angel but they had a queue out the door so we went to try the one in Soho, who also had a queue out the door. We ended up eating at The Scandinavian Kitchen…it was like the mothership was calling me home! We had open sandwiches, potato salad and flat whites (my new favourite drink) and I soaked up all the Scandinavian goodness that surrounded me. We also shared a lucia bun and I browsed the shelves for goodies to take home. I held on to a tin of Anna’s Pepparkakor for ages before Nick convinced me I didn’t need it, I now regret it and wish I’d got it. I ended up leaving with a jar of ground cardamom, some vanilla sugar, cranberry crackers, Swedish and Norwegian flags (which are not stuck at the top of the Christmas tree) and a hot cup of glögg to takeaway. My copy of Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hanneman arrived today from Amazon so I am finding excellent uses for the cardamom.

After brunch we went to The British Museum, it’s such a beautiful building and I love going to see the Parthenon gallery and all the Egyptian artefacts. We spent a good couple of hours there before attempting The Breakfast Club in Soho again and deciding to queue to get in…does the queue ever go down for there? The food was really good but if I’d have known we’d have been queuing for ½ an hour outside and then waiting nearly an hour to finally eat something once we got inside, I would probably have just gone somewhere else. It was good, but I doubt I’d go again unless we could go straight in. I’m just far too impatient to wait for my meals. But enough about my London ramblings…meringues!

I’d been thinking over the past week how cute it would be to give little meringues as a gift and then I tried my first meringue by the Meringue Girls at Feast. I really think they’ll be big in 2013, their meringues are light, delicious and they melt in your mouth. They also look beautiful all lined up in the crates. I decided I would have my own little go at some. Mine aren’t as neat as the Meringue Girls’ but I think they would make a lovely gift wrapped in tissue paper, cellophane and ribbons (my favourite way of wrapping foodie presents, if you haven’t noticed). I made rosewater and pistachio flavour and some chocolate. I love rosewater, it’s such a beautiful flavour. It’s hard to resist putting more than required into recipes but it’s important not to overdo it or you’ll end up with meringues that taste soapy, the same applies to lavender which would also be lovely in meringue.

If you wanted to stick with a Christmas theme you could flavour the meringues with peppermint and paint red stripes down the side of the piping bag for a candy cane effect. Once you get going with these you realise how versatile a base meringue is.

Mini Meringues
(meringue recipe from Lily Vanilli 'Sweet Tooth')

Makes around 20 mini or 10 large

6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
280g caster sugar

for rose & pistachio: 
1/2 teaspoon rose water
50g shelled pistachios, crushed

for chocolate:
30g cocoa powder, sifted
100g dark chocolate, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 120 C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a clean, dry bowl whip the egg whites. Add the lemon juice just as they start to foam up. After about 5 minutes they should be at soft peak stage. Continue whipping at medium speed, adding two tablespoons of caster sugar every 30-40 seconds. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. To add your flavour, fold in the rosewater or cocoa powder (or any other flavour you choose to add) using a  metal spoon or spatula. 
  4. To pipe coloured meringues, paint stripes of colour down the side of the piping bag before adding the meringue. Snip a medium sized hole in the bottom of the bag and pipe away!
  5. Sprinkle with the pistachios (or other nuts) and place in oven for 1 hour.
  6. After an hour, turn the oven off and leave for another hour to dry.
  7. For the chocolate ones, dip the finished meringues in the melted chocolate or drizzle it over the meringues.

Other ideas: folding in freeze dried raspberries or strawberries and drizzle with white chocolate; finely chop glace cherries, fold in and top with chopped almonds for bakewell meringues. The list is fairly endless so you could go mad with meringues this Christmas.