I'll Bite

One Great ... spring dessert

Easiest spring dessert ever: It starts with 1 egg white, a little powdered sugar and a microwave.
Easiest spring dessert ever: It starts with 1 egg white, a little powdered sugar and a microwave. kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com

From Kathleen Purvis’ blog I’ll Bite, at www.charlotteobserver.com:

When I came across a recipe for a microwave meringue, I had to try it: Could you really make a crispy meringue with nothing more than unbeaten egg white, a little powdered sugar and a microwave?

That first recipe didn’t work so great. First, it called for half an egg white. Have you ever tried to measure half of an egg white? It leaves the egg shell in globby clumps, and half of it ends up on the counter. The proportions were wrong, and the meringues ended up looking like misshapen blobs.

Still, the texture was right, with lots of crunch and sweetness. So I tried a second time, then a third. I finally got it right, turning out a large disc. Taking my cue from pavlovas, those ballerina-looking piles of crunchy meringue and cream, I topped it with sweetened whipped cream and a pile of fresh berries for the simplest, quickest dessert ever.

You can make it for Passover, too, but you’ll need kosher-for-Passover powdered sugar, which replaces cornstarch with potato starch.

You can make small meringues and use them as sandwiches instead of a larger single meringue. But wait until just before you use them to finish them. The meringue will soften if you refrigerate it.

Microwave Meringue Cake

1 egg white, unbeaten

2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 tablespoon (see note)

1 cup heavy cream

1 to 2 cups berries, such as raspberries or strawberries

Separate an egg, setting the yolk aside for another use and placing the egg white in a large mixing bowl. Sift 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar over the egg white. Stir with a spoon to start working the egg white into the sugar.

Sprinkle another 1/2 cup sugar over the top, then switch to using your hands to work the sugar into the egg white, kneading until it comes together into a smooth ball. Add a little more sugar if needed so it isn’t sticky. It should have the soft, smooth texture of Play-Doh.

Shape into a slightly flattened ball for a single meringue. Place on a square of parchment paper in the microwave. (For individual meringues, break off small pieces and roll into a ball. Place four at a time on a square of parchment with lots of space between them.)

Microwave on high power, 80 to 90 seconds for a large disc, 30 to 40 seconds for individual ones. The mixture will foam up and spread out, doubling in size. Remove from microwave and cool until crisp, then peel off the paper.

Beat cream with 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over the top and sprinkle with berries. Or chop berries and mix with the cream, then use to sandwich two small meringues.

NOTE: If you want to make it for Passover, substitute confectioners’ sugar made with potato starch, or make your own by grinding 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons potato starch in a food processor.

Yield: About 8 servings (large meringue) or 16 small meringues.