Meringue-o-tangs (and other birthday party stuff)

vegie smugglers farmyard cupcakes

Yes, I know, the sheep has a moustache.

As if moving house and launching a new cookbook wasn’t enough, I’m rounding out my fortnight with Miss Fruitarian’s 7th birthday. With no chance of letting it slide by unnoticed (and fuelled on by guilt at moving the kids mid-term), I’ve had to bite the bullet and take on party hosting 2 weeks into a new home.

As regular readers will know, I love to try and keep party things pretty simple with small menus and a strict one-colour birthday cake policy. So you can image my horror when Miss F presented me with Annabel Karmel’s “My first cookbook” opened at farmyard cupcakes and an announcement that she’d happily forfeit a big cake in favour of these. Now I’m known to be generally undaunted by creative pursuits (being that I make a large proportion of my income as an illustrator) but even I was unprepared to take on the doggies, opting instead for these cute Betty Crocker chickens. They turned out well and the kids loved them.

Topping up the sugar, I also whipped up some swirly biscuits (also from Karmel’s book) and of course, a party isn’t a party without meringues. They cost bugger all to make, can be made a few days ahead and are SO pretty. Don’t be scared of them. Just remember – use eggs at room temperature, use a really clean (not plastic) bowl, NO YOLKS (not even a tiny bit), and cook without the fan-forced option.

So pretty! So cheap! So easy to make ahead!

These days I stick to a recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s bible, but increase the quantities a little.

Sue’s meringues (excuse my paraphrasing)

3 egg whites
¾ cup caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 150, line two trays with baking paper. Beat the whites until stiff peak stage (the mixture stays standing upright when you pull out the beaters). Add the sugar gradually. Add the vanilla. Beat until the mixture is no longer grainy (rub it between your fingers to test).

Dollop amounts onto trays (they don’t spread, so load them up). Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the oven door slightly and leave them to cool completely.

Makes 36.

It’s worth buying one of the disposable piping bags and having a go. It’s really fun, you get a fantastic result and feel just a bit uber-parent when looking at the final product.

Like rolling a turd in glitter, a piped meringue will mesmerise, regardless.

And am I cheating with this photo of them all sitting there perfect and… raw? Well yes, but with a new oven that I’m still getting to know, it was inevitable that I’d burn a few.

Never fear, even a failed meringue is delicious crunched through yoghurt and chopped fruit.

For other party food, try…
Chocolate nipple cakes
Fuss-free party cakes and mud-bread

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