In my beach restaurant Lak Laguna in Kalpitiya, I offer homemade ice cream with different flavours. Vanilla, chocolate (of Swiss origin I specify), coffee for the most classic tastes, as well as coconut, pineapple and mango for the most exotic. However to accompany all this I missed an indispensable thing: meringues, crispy outside, and melting delicately caramelized inside. But how to cook meringues when you do not have a conventional oven?
The thing to know with meringues is that they should be cooked at a temperature of 120 ° for about 2 to 3h depending on their size. Nevertheless, if one reaches 80-100 °, it may suffice. Therefore, as long as the required temperature is low enough, I wondered if a solar oven could be enough to reach 100 °. So I did some research and I came across a Brainergiser video that shows how to build a solar oven with the means on board. This video shows that it is possible to cook an egg (the cooking of an egg starts at 63 °) with solar energy. So I thought that if my oven was well done, I would surely reach a higher temperature.
So I undertook neither one nor two to build the same kind of oven and to carry out a small test. It was a good idea, because not only did I enjoy myself, but I managed to get excellent results and to cook my meringues in very good conditions.
To realize my own solar oven inspired by Brainergiser, I needed to:
- 1 box of sagex of a dimension 70x40x30cm
- 1 roll of aluminum paper rather thick
- 1 packing carton flexible but solid
- 1 glass panel of the same size as the pan and with a thickness of at least 5 mm
- Cellotape, glue and scissors
I give you as a bonus my secret recipe which will allow you to succeed for sure your solar meringues. You will notice that unlike most meringue recipes that you will find on the web, the proportion of egg white is mentioned in GR and not to the egg piece. This is perfectly logical, since European eggs are generally of a weight oscillating between 50 and 65gr per piece. For example, Sri Lankan eggs are often smaller (40 to 50gr), which is why speaking in terms of parts and not weight is not correct, especially when it comes to making pastry that requires extreme precision. The trick to remember is simply to weigh the desired amount of sugar to half the weight of egg white.
For example, to achieve the same number of meringues as on my video, you will need:
- 250gr of sugar
- 125gr of egg white
- 1 pinch of salt
Put the whites (previously taken out of the fridge 10min before) into a salad bowl and mount them like snow by means of an electric whisk with a pinch of salt. Attention, the slightest presence of egg yolk (fat) will totally prevent the rise of whites (albumen); So be vigilant in breaking your eggs. Once the whites are firm (you must be able to return the bowl without the white ones falling to the ground), add the sugar and mix for at least 10min. Your mixture must become sparkling and light without residual presence of sugar and form species of unctuous yarn. As long as this consistency is not reached, continue whipping. Fill a straightening pocket with a large fluted socket and form a preferably small sized meringue on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for faster cooking.
Expose your oven to the sun to preheat it before preparing your meringues. Make sure the day will be very sunny with as few clouds as possible. Indeed, the oven rises in temperature as fast as it descends. Lift the glass and insert the cooktop with your meringues and leave to a constant sun for 2 hours. If your preparation has been well executed, you should notice a noticeable blowing of the meringues ... super is good sign. Check the cooking by sampling a meringue to taste it. If the consistency seems acceptable, I advise you to remove half of the meringues and leave the others still between 30min and 1h. The longer you leave the meringues, the longer they will become dry. It is up to you to judge the time required according to the design of your oven, the size of your meringues and your personal tastes. Some people prefer them crispy, but mellow inside while others, more caramelized. In this case, the meringues tend to split, which is normal and reveals that it should be caramelized at will. It's time to get them out of the oven.
This is not absolutely necessary, but I advise you to buy a cooking thermometer to control the temperature. You will know immediately what to expect according to the data that it will indicate. If you do it blindly you risk being disappointed if the oven is not warm enough. I advise you the classic model of the good old metal thermometer to stick on Sunday roast or modern LCD thermometer:
For my part, I will continue to do tests and see if I can cook anything like meat or vegetables. Do not hesitate to follow my YouTube channel, my blog here on laklaguna.com/news or the other social networks in the top left corner of your screen.