From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
175 g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
for the topping:
225 g small ripe strawberries (hulled and halved)
1 tblsp sifted icing sugar
1/4 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tblsp cointreau (or another orange-flavoured liqueur
300 ml double cream
These meringues have a crisp exterior and delicious, marshmallow-like centres. They will keep for at least one week in an airtight container, just add the strawberry topping just before serving or the meringues will go soft.
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F/Gas 1).
Place the egg whites into a large bowl with the salt and whisk with a hand-held electric mixer until they form stiff peaks.
Whisk in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, to make a stiff glossy meringue.
Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
Drop 6 even-sized spoonfuls of the meringue mixture onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper, spacing them well apart and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon, making a small dip in the centre.
Bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them inside for 2-3 hours to go completely cold.
This should stop them from cracking.
Half an hour before serving prepare the topping.
Place the strawberries in a bowl and gently mix with the icing sugar, orange rind and Cointreau.
Set aside to allow the flavours to infuse.
Just before serving, whip the cream in a bowl to soft peaks.
Spoon a small dollop of the cream in the centre of each plate and sit a meringue on top to prevent them from sliding around on the plates.
Spoon the whipped cream on top.
Pile the strawberries on top, drizzling any juices around the plates and serve.