I picked up some unbelievably juicy Louisiana strawberries this week from one of our independent supermarkets here in Baton Rouge and put them to work in one of my favorite simple spring desserts—baked meringues.
I can hear you groaning, but, I swear, meringues are not hard. Just the opposite. All you have to do is beat some egg whites until stiff, plop the mixture onto cookie sheets in smallish, roundish forms and bake until just crisp. There’s very little measuring involved and you only need a few ingredients.
I love making meringues this time of year because they’re light, airy and perfect with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. This is a great dessert to keep in your pocket for both casual and fancy springtime gatherings.
Baked Meringues with Fresh Louisiana Strawberries
Cooking or baking spray
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh fruit for garnish
Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and spray them lightly with cooking or baking spray. Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until they begin to look foamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, while continuing to beat another 5 or so minutes. Add the vinegar and vanilla extract, and continue to beat until the whites form stiff peaks and look glossy. This takes another 2-3 minutes. Time will vary according to the mixer, but your clue that the whites are ready is that you’ll be able to hold the bowl upside down and they’ll remain in place. Use an ice cream scoop or serving spoon to drop about 6 round scoops of the mixture onto each cookie sheet, gently pressing each down to form tidy discs of about 3-4 inches in diameter.
Bake for about 1 hour. Remove and cool. When ready to serve, plate each meringue with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor and the author of Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.