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Beze (meringues) from The Joy of Better Cooking

Servings: 6
There is nothing more glorious than watching clear, snotty egg whites va-va-voom into a voluminous white gown of magnificent meringue. It is the ultimate culinary Cinderella story … kitchen witchery at its finest. Meringues are also the perfect penultimate recipe to cap off this book, because they apply so many of the lessons we’ve learned together betwixt these purple-tinged pages. Beze is the Russian answer to meringues, and in typical stoic Eastern-bloc fashion, they are served unadorned.


  • 4 egg whites from large eggs (see Tips) at room temperature
  • 1 cup (220 g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract


  • Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Before starting on the meringues, make sure your mixing bowl is scrupulously clean by swishing some white vinegar on a clean tea towel or paper towel and wiping out the bowl, to remove any traces of fat, which will stop the egg whites foaming properly. Also make sure your beaters are scrupulously clean.
  • Using a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, or a hand-held beater and a large metal bowl, beat the egg whites on medium–high speed until the volume doubles and soft peaks form, which will take about 5–10 minutes (depending on your beaters).
  • Start whisking in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all used up, whisking for another 5–10 minutes until the meringue is like glossy cumulus clouds, with no feeling of sugar-granule grittiness when rubbed between your fingertips, and tasting like marshmallow. Mix in the vanilla.
  • Put a few smears of meringue under the baking paper to make it stick to the baking tray. Use two big spoons to plop dollops of the meringue onto the tray, scooping with one spoon, then pushing off with the other; this will make six dessert-sized meringues. They’ll puff up, so leave some space between each.
  • Turn the oven down to 100°C (200°F) and place the tray on the middle shelf. Cook the meringues for 1½ hours. They should look blonde (not brunette), be crisp on the outside and sound hollow when gently tapped on the bottom. Let them cool and dry out in the oven for several hours (overnight is good), with the door chocked ajar with a wooden spoon.
  • The meringues will keep in an airtight container in a cool place (not the fridge!) for up to 2 days.


You can scale the egg meringue quantity up or down. As a rule, for every egg white (each weighing about 30 g/ 1 oz), add cup (60 g) caster sugar. So, as a rough guide:
• 2 egg whites + ½ cup (110 g) caster sugar
• 4 egg whites + 1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
• 6 egg whites + 1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
• 8 egg whites + 2 cups (440 g) caster sugar (the upper limit for a stand mixer).
If you feel like turning egg meringue into a pavlova, for every 2 egg whites, add 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch) and ½ teaspoon white vinegar when you add the vanilla. This will help stabilise the bigger form and give your pav a lovely marshmallowy middle. You will need to vary the cooking time to suit; it may take a few attempts to learn what works best for your oven.

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