How to turn excess egg whites into brown-sugar meringues – recipe | Eggs

As a root-to-fruit cook, I like to practise what I call complete consumption and whenever possible eat the whole ingredient, including the root, skin, stem, leaves and everything in between. My ultimate goal is to use the whole ingredient in a single dish, leaving no byproduct. That can be as simple as finely chopping kale stalks so they can be steamed alongside the leaves, but sometimes more complex cooking is necessary. When you’re using the yolks or whites of an egg, for example, you need to find a use for the other. And meringues keep well in an airtight container for two to three weeks.

Brown sugar pavlova, or meringues

I really wanted to put meringues on the menu at our restaurant Poco in Bristol, but equally did not want to waste the yolks. So I came up with a rhubarb and hibiscus muscovado pavlova for which the yolks were used in a rhubarb curd (the recipe for that, and a video of it made by River Cottage, are both available online). For this column, however, I wanted to create something new, and ended up serving this pavlova with brown banana curd, flambeed bananas, toasted coconut and date syrup, all of which can be added to taste – I’ll share the recipe for the curd with you next week.

This Italian-style meringue recipe is pretty foolproof, even when made with dark and flavourful light brown or muscovado sugar. Just make sure the egg bowl is squeaky clean. It’s easiest to boil sugar using a thermometer, but if you don’t have one, you can still test the sugar is hot enough by dropping a little of the hot syrup into a glass of cold water: if it has reached temperature, it will form a soft ball. If you then lift the ball out of the water, it will flatten after a few seconds.

Makes 1 small pavlova or 4-6 meringues

3 egg whites – save the yolks for making curd
1 drop lemon juice (optional)
140g light brown muscovado sugar

In a very clean and ideally metal bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice to soft peaks (use an electric whisk, if you have one).

In a small saucepan, heat sugar and 55ml water 115C (see introduction) – this should take four or five minutes of gentle boiling. Be careful not to let it boil over. Slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, whisking it in until fully incorporated and the mixture turns very stiff.

If making a pavlova, pour the meringue mix on to an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, thenspread it out into a 20cm-wide circle about 3cm-5cm high; if making individual meringues, spoon four to six large ones on to the tray.

Bake in a 160C (140C fan)/325F/gas 3 oven for two hours, then turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven while it cools. Serve with your favourite toppings, be that fruit, cream, chocolate or whatever.

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