I know things have been a bit quiet round here lately, so to make up, today I’ve got a little bit of Friday magic.
I tracked these down after seeing a picture on the internet. They evolved from the childrens “Experiments in Taste” workshops of Hervé This. In trying to generate the most foam from a single egg-white, This discovered that adding water to whipped egg-white drastically increased the volume of foam. By adding sugar, piping and then drying slowly in an extremely low oven just as for normal meringues, Hervé This created his Cristaux de Vent – Wind Crystals.
The most wonderful thing about these ethereal meringues is the texture. The extra liquid makes for an incredibly light meringue, which together with the slow drying in the oven produces these delicate whispers of confection that literally dissolve on the tongue in a puff of air. They are SO light and SO delicate, that you can shatter them just by trying to remove them from the baking parchment.
From a single large egg-white I managed to entirely fill two half sheet pans with meringue sticks – so about 50-60 sticks in total. I have experimented with them by adding flavours in the form of various fruit powders, but I think that adding just a touch of colour as in the picture above is all that’s required.
NB: These meringue sticks will start absorbing moisture as soon as they are taken from the oven. Pack (GENTLY!) into a ziplock plastic bag if you want to try and keep them longer than an hour or so. Good luck with that. ;)
Wind Crystal Meringues
The weight of the egg-white in caster sugar.
1 tbs water.
- Put the egg-white in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, and switch the speed to low.
- Gradually increase the speed over the course of 2-3 minutes until the top speed is reached.
- While the egg-white is being whisked, thoroughly mix the colouring into the tablespoon of water.
- When the egg-white reaches stiff peaks, add the water and colouring and continue to whisk until the volume of meringue has noticeably increased (3-4 minutes).
- Turn oven to 120°C, 100°C Fan.
- Slowly add the sugar, one teaspoon at a time, waiting for the previous spoonful to dissolve before adding the next. I usually count between 20 and 30 rotations of the whisk between spoonfuls.
- When the sugar is fully incorporated, spoon meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe 10cm lengths of meringue onto baking parchment. You can pipe the lines fairly close together, as there isn’t much spread.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 100°C, 80°C Fan for another 45 minutes.
- When time is up, switch the oven off and let the meringue sticks cool slowly.
- When cool, carefully remove from the baking parchment. I’ve found that the best method with only minimum breakage is:
- Lay a clean towel onto the worktop to make a soft ‘landing’ for the meringues.
- Slide one hand under the parchment.
- With the other hand, peel the parchment down and away from the meringues, allowing the stick to fall onto the towel as they come away from the paper. Trying to pull a fragile meringue stick up off the paper is never going to end well.
Cost: £0.30 (depending on the size of the egg), October 2011