Old-fashioned meringues with berries
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Stand time in oven turned off: 1 to 6 hours
Ann M. Evans says: In my grandparents' brown-shingled Berkeley house, the free-standing vintage stove dominated the kitchen. Fresh meringues would emerge from my grandmother's oven to be topped with freshly picked blackberries and raspberries from my granddad's kitchen garden. This is my grandmother's recipe for meringues, slightly modified and not too different from Georgeanne's mother's recipe.
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 pints blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or a mixture
Whipped cream (optional):
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, almond extract and salt, and beat for 1 minute.
Using a spoon, transfer the meringue batter to the baking sheet, forming 3-inch rounds about 2 inches high, forming several peaks on each round with the spoon. You should have 10 meringues. If you like, use the back of the spoon to make a slight depression in each meringue, to act as a cup to hold the berries.
Bake the meringues until very faint color appears on the peaks, about 1 hour. The outside will be crisp and the inside soft. When they are done, turn off the oven, crack the oven door open, and let the meringues dry out in the oven as it cools, at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours to ensure they are fully dry.
If making the whipped cream, pour the cream into a large bowl. Using the electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and almond extract, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
To serve, place each meringue on a dessert plate. Top the meringues with the berries and then with a scoop of the whipped cream, if using.
Per serving without whipped cream: 111 cal.; 2 g pro.; 26 g carb.; trace fat; 0 mg chol.; 22 mg sod.; 3 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 2 percent calories from fat.