The lack of ‘story’ for these meringues is perturbing me a little, for they were some of the best just-thrown-together-cookies I have made in a long time. Egg whites, sugar, almonds, cardamom. Left in the oven to dry out overnight, wrapped in cellophane and blue ribbon the next morning to give to our favourite fruit lady in town.
Obviously, I stole one to taste, that is how I know they were (though I say so myself) really good.
Meringues make excellent presents: they look pretty, are simple and adaptable and will keep well in an airtight tin. These ones shatter on the outside to reveal a slightly chewy, nutty centre. The almonds take a backseat to the strong scent of cardamom, which makes them just out of the ordinary. Delicious with strong coffee, just a puff of sugar on the tongue and a lasting perfume of spice. They would be even more spectacular made into larger nests, filled with blackberries and whipped cream for an autumn dinner.
Cardamom meringues with flaked almonds
makes 20 – from an idea by Joy the Baker
2 egg whites
40g caster sugar
40g icing sugar
40g ground almonds
5 pods cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
40g flaked/slivered almonds to decorate
Sieve the icing sugar and almonds together with the cardamom.
In a large (preferably metal) bowl, whisk the egg whites with a teaspoon of caster sugar until they start to become frothy and white. (This is 100 x easier with an electric whisk.) Gradually add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time until it’s all gone. Keep whisking until it forms a pillowy fluff, satiny smooth.
Gently fold in the almond/icing sugar mix and the vanilla. Try not to deflate the fluff! Scoop blobs onto a baking-paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with flaked almonds.
Bake at about 120C for an hour or so, then turn off the oven. Leave the meringues in there for at least another hour, best overnight. Keep in an airtight tin.