- Servings: Makes 6-to-8 3-inch meringue rings or one 10-inch circle that serves 6 to 8.
Meringue shells are made from sweetened egg whites that have been whipped until white and shiny, and then baked very slowly at a low temperature until the shells are dry and crisp but not browned. It's important that the meringues keep their white appearance for maximum appeal.
You can use a pastry bag with a star tip to make pretty rings, or a spoon to shape into small mounds, or a spatula to shape into a single round.
Moisture is meringue's enemy, so give it time to first, bake slowly and then, cool gradually in the oven so that the egg whites completely dry out. Store the cooled meringue shells in an airtight container to prevent them from softening (although they'll still taste wonderful).
Superfine sugar will dissolve more easily but if you don't have it, regular granulated sugar will be fine to use.
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- Fine salt
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon white or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 300º F.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a 3-inch drinking glass or other circular shape and a pencil, draw circles onto the parchment paper, about one-to-two inches apart from one another (if you're making a single round, use a plate to draw an approximately 10-inch circle in the center of the paper). Turn the paper over and place it on the baking sheet.
- Using an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add a pinch of salt and while whisking at medium high speed, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and then whisk at high speed until glossy, stiff peaks form. Turn off the mixer.
- Use a spatula to fold in the vinegar, vanilla, and cornstarch until just combined.
- Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag using a star tip, form rings of meringue on the baking sheet following the patterns you've drawn on the paper. If you don't have a pastry bag, use a large soup spoon to form mounds of meringue filling in the circles. Or use a spatula to fill in the large circle to create a round disc of meringue.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 200° F so that they bake but do not brown.
- Bake for 2 hours and turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in the oven to cool, another 2 to 3 hours.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.