Meringues are a wonderful standby to have in your repertoire, as they can be whipped up quickly and are always a hit. Having used all those egg whites, you are left with a problem of what to do with the yolks. My mother and her friends have a terrific recipe to use egg yolks. They call it the “pavlova sponge”, as it uses the four leftover egg yolks and whips them into a light-as-air sponge that’s delicious with cream, jam and fruit. It has appeared at countless tennis parties and afternoon teas. I was asked to take a treat to the Hospice Strawberry Festival late last year, and after using a dozen egg whites, I suddenly thought: “I could use those yolks to make cupcakes to take along, too.” I’m not sure which was the bigger hit, the meringues or the cupcakes, both topped with cream and strawberries
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- Preheat the oven to 140 degC. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, and continue whisking. Beat in the vanilla essence. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, then place well-spaced dessertspoonfuls of mixture on the paper. Bake for 50 minutes. (The outside should be crisp.)
- Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to stand in the oven for an hour or more to help set the insides. Remove the meringues from the oven and leave on a rack to dry out and completely cool. Store in an airtight tin.
- Whip the cream until firm but not turning buttery.
- To decorate, place the meringues on a serving plate and pipe or spoon a tablespoonful of cream on top. Decorate with fresh berries or slices of kiwifruit, orange or stone fruit. To prevent stone fruit from discolouring, toss the fruit in a mixture of sugar and lemon juice.