Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What To Do With Leftover Egg Whites: Mini Pastel Meringues

In one of my favourite cookbooks from last year, Polpetto Head Chef Florence Knight's first cookbook One: A cook and her cupboard thee is a recipe for Maple Custard Tart that I have been itching to try. The recipe list is pretty basic; a sweet pastry tart case, maple syrup, 9 medium egg yolks, double cream and some freshly grated nutmeg. The problem is, when you use 9 medium egg yolks, you'll be leftover with 9 egg whites. I like the odd leftover egg white fried up and in a breakfast sandwich, but not that much! Luckily there is one answer for what to do with leftover egg whites that everyone should know how to master if they do not already: when life gives you egg whites, you should always, without hesitation, make meringues.
Mini Meringue Vases
DSC_0558 Also today, as an alternative to the second half of the story about these meringues (no one wants to hear about me crying with my head in my hands on the back porch after the first batch turned into marshmallow fluff rather than actual meringue) I'm going to let you into a little secret. While I love eating, photographing and generally looking at pretty sweet things, I'm not the happiest bunny in the kitchen when I'm making them. Given the choice, with the exception of bread which I love making, if you give me the option between cooking something and baking something, I'll choose to cook every single time. There is a reason why only roughly 1/4 of the recipes on this blog are for sweets. Where I am totally comfortable trying new things on the savoury side of things, and they have a great success rate, when sweet things happen I sometimes panic, we get failures, and I feel rather disheartened no matter how hard I try. Just don't even ask me about sweet pastry.

However, because I had the leftover egg whites from making the tart (for which I only got the pastry shell good enough to use on the second attempt) and I've had this beautiful glass display jar the guys over at Out There Interiors sent me eons ago sitting around waiting for me to make something sweet to go inside, I knew that meringues needed to happen, and for some reason only known to myself rather than doing my usual Mary Berry recipe, I wanted to try the slightly more complicated but prettier technique in London cake boutique Peggy Porchen's Boutique Baking book I gave my mother for her birthday last year. 
On the second batch, I discovered that they were the best meringues I'd ever made, with a flavour I'd never thought of imparting to the mix before, and with much more crunch while still being very glossy and light. Having to make the batch up twice also taught me to keep in mind about making meringue I think I may have overlooked, that I can pass over to you so that you don't make the same mistakes as I did. For one, your bowl and whisk attachment need to be so so clean and clear of any oil or grease. Also your egg whites need to be at room temperature, and while all books tell you to be careful not to over whisk your egg whites, you need to also be careful not to under beat them too! The best guide to making meringue's I've ever read can be found over at one of my favourite baking blogs, Poires au Chocolat.

  • 3 Large Egg Whites (100g / 3.5 oz)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100g (3.5 oz) White Caster (Superfine) Sugar 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Icing (Confectioners) Sugar
  • Pink, Blue & Yellow Liquid Food Colouring 

Pre-heat the oven to 80 degrees celsius (175 degrees fahrenheit) and line three baking trays with parchment. Once my meringue is made, I like to put a little tab under each corner to stop the paper curling up, or blowing up in the fan oven. In a standing mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment (I have a cream Kenwood K-Mix) whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt on high until the whites start to get a little stiff. With the mixer still running, gradually spoon in the caster sugar until it is all incorporated. Whisk the eggs until thick and glossy, and when you pull the whisk attachment up out of the mix all the eggs stick to it and don't drop back down. With a rubber spatula, fold in the icing sugar  and the vanilla extract until it is all combined. Divide the mixture up into three, and fold pink colouring into one (drop by drop as the colour can be added, but not removed!) into one. Fold blue into another, adding little drops of yellow also to make it more of an aqua than the harsh blue you usually get in the bottle. Pipe the three different colours onto the baking sheet a few centimetres apart using a piping bag (I use disposable ones) and a star shaped nozzle. Bake for two hours, then turn off the oven leaving the meringues inside, without opening the door until the oven is cold. Store in an air tight container and at a cool constant temperature (I've had melting meringue before!) Enjoy! 

What do you do to use up your leftover egg whites if you don't make meringues. Also a bit of an FYI, the books pictured in this post as well as the Peggy Porschen are Sweet Paris by photographer Michael Paul which is a simply beautiful book I really recommend, full of the history of French patisserie, where to buy the best in Paris as well as some great recipes, and Melt by Claire KelseyOne of my top flavour experiences was the first cone of one of Ginger's Comfort Emporium ice creams at Street Feast Europe last Summer, so when I knew they had a book it went to the top of my wish list; I can't wait to get going with it this Summer! The candy jar is resting on is LadurĂ©e's Entertaining book which I have only read a little bit of so far, but I can tell you is really beautiful. If you're reading this, thank you so much again Seggy for bringing me this, and my favourite French magazines all the way from Paris to Los Angeles for me! 


  1. Your meringues are so sweet! I much prefer baking and photographing sweet things but I don't have much of a sweet tooth so they always go to waste! You have so many lovely cook books!

  2. I love the window! Mini meringues are my favourites, much less messy to eat. The only problem is the sweetness gets overwhelming after some point. I've never tried them with less sugar, do you think the texture would keep intact? x

  3. It is actually the window where a lot of my recipes are shot, you just only usually see the white sill! It is in the drawing room.

    And unfortunately I know it won't work as it is the sugar dissolved in the egg white that creates the crust and is the whole structure for the meringue; it won't hold a solid shape with less sugar. But I like keeping mini meringues around, as I can just have one little one for a hit of sweetness without it being too overwhelming!

  4. Oh my, these look so cute! Enjoyed the post, Rachel!

  5. oh my goodness. Those looks delicious. I have to try making these for my family. They would think they are super cute. Thanks for sharing.

    If you have a second, I'd love for you to stop by my blog and check out my latest post!

  6. I must admit, i sadly usually throw away my egg whites. Now you are motivating me to stop that madness and just making delicious meringues!

  7. Hey there Rachel. Pretty as a picture, your meringues! I tend to have a lot of leftover egg whites, and the first thing I usually do is the genius Nigella Lawson move of transferring them to a zip lock bag and stashing them away in the freezer. I write on the bag how many there are, and when I need them (usually to make Pavlova) later, I just quickly (5 min) defrost them. The freezing and thawing somehow makes the meringue even more stable later. Other than that I find that you can spice the egg whites with some soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic and make a quick thin omelette, cut it in stripes and have it in a stir fry with veggies.