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Dear god, I don’t even know where to start on this post. I’ll keep it simple.  It all started because I wanted to make beautiful, glossy home-made mayonnaise as a base for aioli to accompany a massive crab and lobster stuff-up. The shellfish was caught locally that day (and delivered to our holiday cottage by the fisherman no less) so it somehow didn’t feel quite right to whip out a jar of Hellmann’s.

Sometime later, having manned an electric whisk for an age, with nerves wrung tight and feeling A LITTLE ON THE EDGE >eye twitches manically<,  I pulled out the Hellmann’s.

Due to the sheer quantities of people involved, and their gargantuan appetites for mayo and aioli, I was making a veritable vat of the stuff and I hadn’t quite anticipated how much patience it would take to get to a mayo ‘happy ending’. Predictably, I got over-zealous with the oil-pouring and the whole damn lot split just as I was nearing the finishing line. Tears were shed and someone had to have a gin and tonic and a shoulder rub.

But this isn’t about mayonnaise and there is actually a real happy ending to all this.

The mayonnaise was rescued the next day, and the resulting cup of egg whites I had from the first attempt turned into gorgeous full-breasted, crunchy-on-the-outside-chewy-in-the-middle meringues which finally closed the long chapter of my fear and loathing of meringues (there have been several failed attempts.)

Home-made meringues rock and a mayo melt-down is almost worth the happy ending.

The following recipe made 12 lovely big blousey meringues. To adapt to your own quantities, use 50g sugar for each egg white. White sugar will give you white meringues, golden caster sugar will give them a caramel hue like the ones shown. And the big tip is to ensure the bowl and whisks are absolutely squeaky clean as any hint of oil will affect the outcome. I washed everything in boiling soapy water in advance and dried with a fresh clean tea towel.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g golden caster sugar

Method:

Using an electric whisk, beat egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually add the sugar. Beat the sugar into the mixture thoroughly as you go. You’re aiming for a stiffish, glossy consistency. You could then pipe onto grease proof paper on an oven tray or, if you prefer a more dollopy finish, simply dollop on with a spoon. We cooked these in the aga simmering oven for about 2 hours (somewhere between 115 and 135 degrees celcius).

p.s. If you’re interested in trying mayo at home, it’s really not as bad as I’m making out. My downfall was greed and impatience. I followed Felicity’s mayonnaise recipe in the  Guardian food blog ‘How to cook perfect..’  series and it is a good one. If, like me, you fail first time around, have a gin and tonic and then rescue the split batch by;

1. Whisking up one or two egg yokes (MORE whites for meringues!!)

2. Gradually adding the split mixture to the yokes whisking all the while. Hold your nerve and you won’t cock it up.

The resulting aioli was simply the mayo recipe above with a few more cloves of crushed garlic.