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Makes 8 large or 16 small half meringues (4 generous pairs, 8 smaller pairs)
These pretty meringues make a memorable christening gift, particularly when presented in a pretty basket. They’re also perfect for children’s birthday parties. For a girl use pink food colouring and raspberry cream; for a boy, use blue colouring and blueberries.
Preheat the oven to 140ºC (275°F), Gas mark 1. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt into a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition, until it has all been added and the meringue is satiny and forms stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.
Using a large metal spoon, fold in the vanilla extract. Using a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm (5/8 in) nozzle or a spoon, pipe or scoop the mixture into individual meringue approximately 7cm (2 ¾ in) wide onto the prepared baking trays.
To achieve the ripple colour effect, dip a wooden or metal skewer into your chosen food colouring and swirl it through each meringue.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Test one by lifting and gently pressing on the base of a meringue – it should be crisp but give way with a bit of pressure – they will crisp more when cooling. Turn off the oven, and allow to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar for best results. If possible, allow them to cool completely in the oven.
When ready to serve, make the cream. Place the raspberries and sugar in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Push the mixture through a sieve into a bowl to remove the pips. Fold as much purée as you wish through the whipped cream, leaving it rippled if you like. Place a generous tablespoon of the raspberry cream on one half of the meringue and sandwich together with another meringue. Serve any remaining purée on the side.
The meringues will keep for two or three days in an airtight container unfilled, but need to be eaten within half an hour once they have been filled.
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