The secret to Meringue is.... two eggs. 2/3 cup sugar.
I first started experimenting with meringues last year at Christmas, when I found a recipe for peppermint meringues. It called for egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. But every time I made these, I couldn't get the requisite 'stiff peaks' and ended up with 'semi-stiff peaks' that took about an HOUR to conjur, even with my stand mixer.
This was not good. I needed alternatives.
For Christmas, my brother gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card (we exchange gifts early). I went and bought Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat." In it--behold! A meringue recipe! With only sugar and eggs!) (LINK NOTE: In the U.S., it has a different cover.)
Well I just tried it, and FINALLY, in about 6-8 minutes, I had the elusive stiff peaks!
Taste is to be determined--they are in the oven right now.
So, from Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat":
2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
Preheat over to very low heat (275 degrees). NOTE: my oven won't do this, so I had to use 270.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. When you lift the beaters or whisk out of a the mixture and firm peaks retain their shape, it's stiff enough. Gradually whisk in half the sugar. The meringue will take on a wonderful satiny gleam. Then fold in the remaining sugar with a metal spoon.
Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. You can squeeze the meringue into mounds with a piping bag, or with a tablespoon or teaspoon.
Put the sheet or meingues in the over for about 40 minutes for the smaller size and 70 for the larger. When they feel firm, turn the over off, but keep the meringues in until completely cold. Ince they are cold, they can be stored in an airtight container.