A couple of weeks ago, I had a milestone birthday. It didn't exactly get lost in the shuffle, but it was a lower key event than I had originally contemplated - partly because I had just gotten back from a hectic ten days in Mexico, and was still doing laundry and catching up on sleep.
Fortunately for me, a friend was having a party the night before my birthday, so I got to see all of my friends with only minimal effort. Also fortunately for me, one week later, another friend was experiencing the exact same milestone, and she had a little get-together at her home.
I love to bring food to parties - no real surprise there. This time, I wanted something special, and because one member of the party-household is gluten-free, I needed a gluten-free special birthday treat. Ideally, one that I could put together relatively at the last moment.
Enter the meringue.
I don't tend to post much in the way of sweets, here. I really cut back on sugar a few years ago, and I tend not to do as much baking, anymore. My favourite kind of baking these days is where I get to make something fun and take it to share with other people, which helps regulate how much of it I end up eating. I still like desserts, but I like to share them.
These little babies are simply delicious - crisp shells with marshmallowy interiors. And, happily, gluten-free. Best made on a dry, sunny day, as meringue is hygroscopic, and will become a sticky mess if there's any humidity.
Recipe adapted from Laura Calder's French Food at Home
4 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2/3 cup icing sugar (if you want these to be gluten-free, check the brand)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 drops red food colouring
Whip the egg whites and salt into soft peaks that only just stands up on its own. Add the rosewater and continue whipping into stiff peaks. Combine the white sugar and the cream of tartar and add by the tablespoon into the egg whites, while continuing to whip. When the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is stiff, combine the cornstarch and the icing sugar and sift into the meringue, folding carefully until it is completely incorporated. Add the red colouring, and continue to fold until everything is a lovely pink and there are no streaks of colour.
Spoon the meringues onto a baking sheet lined with tinfoil (I got about 18 large meringues), and bake at the very low temperature of 225 F for 1 1/2 hours. The tops should be crisp when tapped. Allow to cool on trays (do not try to remove them from the foil until they are cooled, or you will probably wreck them). When completely cool, you can store them for a couple of days in an air-tight container. Theoretically.
These were readily marveled at and devoured by party guests, some of whom were fairly amazed at the sweet and clean floral taste.