The Mystery of Meringues -- Misha Herwin


One of the great mysteries of the universe is how meringues came into being. I understand about toast-bread getting burned on the fire-and about stew-throwing vegetables into the cooking pot to bulk up the meat, or simply to avoid having to cook them separately. Custards and sauces make sense too. I can imagine cooks experimenting with milk, eggs and cream or adding flour to a runny sauce to stop it dripping off the plate, but who on earth decided to separate an egg and then whip up the white with sugar and vanilla?

Whoever it was, I am eternally grateful, as meringue is one of my fail safe and most popular desserts. Apart from the classic Pavlova with cream and strawberries, I do one with banana and stem ginger, a plain coffee meringue, one with whisky flavoured cream, another with summer berries and am about to try out a chocolate version. In fact the list of fruit or flavours is vast and it’s fun to experiment.

Once you’ve got the basic technique sorted, it’s easy to cook and if you’re going to be rushed for time, the meringues can be made the day before you want to eat them. They should, no doubt, be kept in an air tight tin overnight but the last meringues I left on their plates in the dining room until they were needed the next day.

“Your meringues are soft and fluffy like your books,” my son teased, narrowly avoiding having the empty plate thrown at his head. I’ll happily take the compliment to my cooking, but he knows full well that the books have a darker side to them. “House of Shadows” is a chilling paranormal tale, “Picking up the Pieces” deals with the serious issues of how women can support themselves as they grow older, while “Shadows on the Grass” is a story of loss and re-invention as Hannah and her daughter come to terms with living in a new country.

All the novels do have touches of humour and lightness too, because I could never write anything that is unremittingly gloomy and even the worst darkness passes.

So to the recipe.


3 medium eggs, separated

6 oz castor sugar

2 tsp cornflour

1tsp vanilla essence

1/2tsp white wine vinegar


Heat oven to 120/110 Fan (Check for gas and Aga) Line two 8in round, 1in deep, cake tins with non-stick baking paper.

Whisk egg whites until so stiff that you can hold the bowl upside down and they don’t fall out.

Whisk in half the sugar. Then vanilla essence, vinegar and cornflour. Whisk in rest of sugar.

Put in tins and bake for 1hr until the surface is pale coffee coloured and the meringues peel easily off the paper.

Cool. Then fill with whipped cream and fruit of your choice.




Kirsten Bett said…
Hi Mischa, I live pavs!!! As a colleague once told me, the secret is never to open the oven door until it is completely cool. I look forward to reading your books. Will put them on my tbr - when I get round to it is a mystery because more and more are finding their way on it. 😊 But it will be this year!
Kirsten Bett said…
Sorry above should have read I love pavs, autocorrect...
Ruth Leigh said…
Two of my favourite things in one blog, meringues and writing! Love it
Umberto Tosi said…
Lead me not into temptation. On second thought, go ahead. Heaven must be filled with meringues!
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Misha,

I love meringue desserts.

One restaurant I used to go to (Pre-Covid) served an excellent one called Eton Mess.
It was fruit, cream and pieces of meringue. Maybe there was a strawberry jam in it too.


Eden Baylee said…
I forgot to say your son is a hoot, and he should be punished with no more meringue!
Griselda Heppel said…
I ADORE meringues. But they have to be golden outside and chewy inside, which I've found doesn't work in a fan oven. Fan cooking seems to be so even that they end up powdery the whole way through. At the risk of AE blog turning into a cookery column, can you tell me which kind of oven you use for your delicious looking pavlova?
Reb MacRath said…
Just what I needed--a sudden and overpowering Sunday craving for meringue! I love how you connected the subject with your writing.

Popular posts

Be True to Your Inner Imposter --- Reb MacRath

Twelve hours and several lifetimes: a day sail on the Deben with books


Move Your Tired Old Ass Like a Writer -- Reb MacRath

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee