The last time I made meringues I decided to get experimental and try them with a twist after taking inspiration from pumpkin pie. In theory this was a great idea. In practice, a disaster. Since baking is an exact science, it will sometimes take a number of attempts to get your recipe right – on the first attempt I knocked all of the air out of the meringue, leaving me with sugary goo. After this disastrous effort I found the correct amount of pumpkin puree to add and realised that folding the pumpkin very gently as not to deflate the meringue was critical.
These are based on the same recipe as the hazelnut and cinnamon meringues but add tinned pumpkin, spices and a topping of crumbled digestive biscuits (or graham crackers if you’re in America).
200g Egg Whites (about 7)
140g brown sugar (1/2cup + 2 tablespoons)
260g castor sugar (1cup + 1 tablespoon)
1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground ginger
2 Digestive biscuits or graham crackers (coarsely crumbled)
These are based on a Swiss meringue, which makes a very stable base but requires you to fully dissolve the sugar in the egg whites over heat before the mixing stage. The mixture will go from clear and brown to thick and white (and shiny) when completely mixed. If mixing by hand have the TV on or a paper nearby as it will take quite a while to become stiff enough.
Combine both sugars and egg whites in a bowl. Place a sauce pan with a small amount of water on the stove, bring to a light simmer and create a double boiler with the bowl. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Do not allow the egg whites to cook, but heat through, ensuring the sugar is dissolved.
Place the egg white and sugar mixture into an electric mixer and beat for about 10 minutes on high-speed or until the egg whites are shiny and very stiff. Very gently fold in the pumpkin and spice mixture, divide into balls the size of medium apples and top with the cookie crumbs. Bake at 110c for about 1:20 – 2:00 hours depending on humidity and oven settings. The meringues should be firm on the bottom but still gooey in the middle – if you make smaller meringues, reduce the cooking time.