Saturday, 17 May 2014

Meringue words

When Tate & Lyle asked me to try their Meringue Words recipe, I agreed, rather recklessly on my part, cause I haven't done meringues for a very very long time and totally lost the knack. What could go wrong with simple meringues, right? Wrong, in my case, it was a case of a near-disaster.

Tate & Lyle cheerfully chirped: "These meringue words are a fun way of writing some edible messages for a birthday, anniversary or festive celebration. They also make a lovely place name for dinner or wedding parties".

So far, so good. First of all, I couldn't find any piping bags and nozzles in our kitchen (I really-really need to de-clutter), so I stopped by Lakeland and got a set of 9 nozzles and a reusable piping bag for £9.99 (hoping to use it for all the cupcake decorations). 
Now, let's study the recipe:

Meringue Words (recipe courtesy of Tate & Lyle)

That's what they were supposed to look like

"Makes:  about 36 letters
Prep time:  30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ½ hours, plus overnight in the oven

3 large egg whites or 95g (3½oz) liquid egg white
185g (6½oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Golden Caster Sugar
Christmas red, egg yellow, rose, lilac, mint green and baby blue paste food colours, or fewer or more as you like.

You will also need 3 baking trays lined with parchment paper, 6 disposable piping bags fitted with 1cm (½”) plain nozzles or snip off the tips instead, and 6 paint brushes, or fewer or more depending on your colour choices.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan180°, 400°F, Gas 6.

Tip the sugar onto one of the baking trays and spread it out in an even layer. Warm through on the middle shelf of the oven for about 3-4 minutes or until the sugar feel hot to touch and has lightly coloured, stirring once. Don’t let it caramelize.  Pour into a small bowl.

Reduce the oven heat down to its lowest, 110°C/Fan90°C, 225°F, Gas ¼.

As soon as the sugar is ready, using an electric mixer, add the whites to the bowl and whisk at high speed until it is light and foamy, for about 1 minute. Slowly add the hot sugar, a dessertspoon at a time, and continue whisking until the mixture has cooled and is very thick and glossy. Scrape down the sides halfway through. This will take about 5 minutes.

Turn the sides of the piping bag down to the nozzle and, using a paintbrush, paint 3 lengths of one of the food colour pastes from the nozzle to about 10cm (4”) upwards. Carefully spoon in some of the meringue, and carefully pull the bag upwards over the nozzle and use a little to stick down the paper on the baking tray. Alternatively, if you’re not using nozzles, just snip the tips off with a pair of scissors. Pipe some letters on the baking trays, slightly spaced apart. Then repeat with the rest of the meringue and food colours.

Bake on the top and middle shelves of the oven for 1 hour, swapping the trays over halfway through. The meringues are ready when they are crisp on the outside and the bases are dry and not at all sticky. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool in the oven for a few hours or overnight.

The meringues can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and stored in an air-tight container."

The fun started when I was whisking the egg whites with sugar. The bowl wasn't big enough, and the meringue mix ended up everywhere, including my apron and hair. I have been whisking and whisking, and still the mix wasn't stiff enough for the turn-the-bowl-over trick. Don't know if there should have been more sugar in the recipe. Anyway, I decided to risk it and spooned the contents of the bowl in the piping bag. 
I don't think there is enough mixture to make 36 letters, unless they are truly miniscule. I wrote Edgar on the parchment paper, and used the remaining mix to do one big meringue on the 2nd tray.
After an hour, the letters were crispy. The big meringue was deliciously gooey inside, totally beautiful, and my older son polished almost all of it.
Eddie had fun, reading his name in meringue letters. He said they tasted good too.

If you enjoy baking, you might have seen promotional Tate & Lyle sugar in the shops with "Bake Your Dreams Come True" stickers. This exciting campaign has been launched recently to inspire the budding bakers to follow their baking dreams. Along the way, you have a chance of winning prizes and rewards.
I am almost never lucky with the instant win type of competitions, and a few codes that I have entered were all for %off vouchers which I am never going to use, but I will keep entering. Who knows, the big win might be just round the corner. 
What about you? Have you won a prize with Tate & Lyle baking promotion?

Disclosure: I got a couple of Tate & Lyle products for the purposes of testing the recipe. 

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