Baking egg whites into a hard meringue is a great make-ahead dessert that looks really impressive. You can make hard meringues as small individual servings or create a meringue cake like a pavlova.
Try to avoid making meringues on a humid day. The sugar will draw in moisture from the air and your meringue may not crisp properly.
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
Preheat oven to 200 F.
Make sure your bowl and beaters are spotless or your whites will not expand.
It’s easiest to separate your egg whites when cold but they should be warm when you beat them so they expand properly. Place egg whites in a bowl over a bigger bowl filled with hot tap water and they’ll warm up quickly.
Start beating the egg whites on low speed until they are frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat on high until you reach soft peaks. Start adding sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time, still beating on high.
Keep beating until you see glossy and firm peaks. Rub a little of the whites between your fingers — you don’t want to feel any graininess, the sugar should be dissolved. Keep beating until the whites feel smooth.
Add the cornstarch and beat in.
On a baking tray lined with parchment paper scoop out the egg whites with a large spoon to make your individual nests or one circular pie.
Put the tray in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours turn the oven off and leave the meringues overnight or until the oven is completely cool. Meringues are sensitive to changes in temperature and can crack if cooled too quickly.
Serve topped with whipped cream and fruit, lemon curd or fruit coulis.
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.