Wind Crystal Meringues

Wind Crystals

Wotchers!

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

1 egg-white
The weight of the egg-white in caster sugar.
Food colouring
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.
  • Enjoy!

Cost: £0.30 (depending on the size of the egg), October 2011


18 Comments on “Wind Crystal Meringues”

  1. Wow, these sound delicious. I might try this recipe over the weekend.

  2. I’m making a birthday cake for my niece next weekend, wonder if this is something I could use as decoration.

  3. You never cease to amaze me Mary Anne. This is a must have a go recipe x Off I go then…

  4. Do I remember you making these for the final

  5. mdebar says:

    For experimentation : see the recipe for Coffee and Hazelnut Cristaux de vent at http://www.altergusto.fr/tag/blanc-doeuf/ (in french). Caveat : I have not yet tried that recipe.

  6. mdebar says:

    In one paper, Hervé This says “… en le faisant cuire 40 minutes à 120°C, puis 2 heures à 100°C, on obtient une sorte de meringue que j’ai appelé “cristaux de vent”.” Have you tried this much longer cooking time, and how do you compare the results ? Thanks for unearthing this recipe.

    • MAB says:

      Compared to some of the pictures out there, the sticks were really thin, and so crisp after 1.5 hours that I didn’t want to risk overdoing them (done this before, very disappointing).

  7. Caroline Taylor says:

    Such delicate colours and texture I should imagine!I really must get some fruit powders they sound such fun to use and experiment with
    .I can almost picture you as an alchemist in your kitchen mixing bits of this and that and coming up with gold !
    Love learning all the tricks of the trade from you that make cooking such an art form.

  8. Sarah says:

    Think I’m to heavy handed to get these off the baking parchment but they look wonderful!

  9. Janice says:

    These look so pretty!

  10. Lauren says:

    Oooh wow! These look fantastic!! 🙂

  11. Jo Wheatley says:

    These look wonderful Mary Anne, I’m so pleased you’ve shared this recipe, i’ve wanted to try it since the final XXX

  12. Fabulous colours, I can’t wait to give these a try. GG

  13. Hi Mary Anne, what colouring did you use to get these striking colours.I used just the standard Dr. Oetker (is he actually a doctor and of what!) and they are very pastel in comparison. x

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Jessica! I use the brand Sugarflair – which come in little plastic pots with (usually) a gold label – you can find them on ebay and also on cake decorating sites. They have the consistency of Marmite – very thick – but you only need a tiny amount – like the head of a match. The pots are about £2 each, and last for ages because you use such small amounts. Hope this helps! M-A 😀

  14. Michel Debar says:

    Just a quick note : when baked on Teflon baking sheets, the meringues can be picked up easily, with no risk of breaking – at least in my experience up to now.


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