This year has been the year of the cookery class.
In January I attended Taste of China at School of Wok which involved a tour around China Town before back to the school in Covent Garden to learn knife and wok skills along with some authentic Chinese recipes.
A couple of months later I attended their half day Dim Sum course and I’ve been making dumplings at home ever since!
Last month I learnt how to make profiteroles at Jenius Social and finally, two weeks ago I joined the Meringue Girls in Hackney to learn the art of meringue making.
So little time and so much to learn!
I’ve been lucky that so far that non of the cookery classes I’ve been to have disappointed. Meringue Girls was no exception. Somewhere in the middle of affordable and pricey, at £70 the Meringue Girls Masterclass is good value for money.
But before I jump straight in, lets start at the very beginning…
1 Broadway Market Mews, E8 4TS | http://www.meringuegirls.co.uk/masterclass
Meringue Girls Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman carved out a niche in the confectionery market back in 2011 and ever since have been making their wonderfully colourful and wildly flavoured meringue kisses for press events, parties and even weddings (they’ve recently paired up with Fondant Fox to create bespoke wedding cakes – I might not be engaged but I’ll order one now please!)
They an overnight sensation that has knocked cupcakes, cake pops, macarons and even whoopie pies right for six. They are the trendiest sweet around. When I discovered that they not only had a Meringue Girls Cookbook for sale, but that they offered Merigue Girl Masterclasses, I had to jump on the bandwagon and learn how to conquer one of the biggest food trends of 2014.
Now nothing ever goes slowly for me, so despite leaving work early and booking my taxi in advance I still managed to turn up late. The classes are small (just 10 people in total) so I felt very guilty as I blustered through the door.
In my defence, the ONLY issue I had with the masterclass was the location. Based in Hackney, there are two overground stations that you could potentially describe as nearby. But not knowing the area I didn’t fancy wandering down a canal by myself in the dark…just saying! So, I had to plump for a rather expensive taxi which couldn’t find the address as its not actually on a road that can be driven down, rather it is a unit behind the shops off of the main street.
Once I had finally arrived, the evening soon started to pick up. Stacey handed me a frilly apron and a glass of Prosecco, plonked me next to another Meringue Girl fan (also called Emma) and we began to learn the art of making meringue!
We learnt that its all about the timing. That the sugar should be warm and that it should be added to the egg whites slowly, JUST at the right time. I also learnt that whilst a colourful stand mixer looks good on your kitchen work top, it actually makes cooking more boring…more on that for another time!
Once we had the perfect meringue mix the next job was to choose which flavours and colours we wanted to do. It seems you really can flavour a meringue with anything (though perhaps not marmite….I’ve promised Stacey I’ll give this a go and let her know how it turns out and if anyone says otherwise It was my idea first!!!) Emma #1 – that’s me – chose Maple and Pecan and Emma #2 – my partner for the evening – chose lemon and lime. We both went for double colour stripes on our meringues, red/orange and yellow/green respectively.
Lemon and lime was a really popular combination, as were the more alcoholic flavourings. There were also some beautiful colour combinations too and I was particularly struck by a mauve and silver meringue. I wish I’d come up with that!
Once we had painted and piped. The meringues went into the oven and we tried some that Stacey had made earlier. Flavours included passion fruit and gin and tonic. We even saw some special Christmas flavours the Meringue Girls had made including Mince Pies, Panatone and even Pine (the smell of Christmas trees)!
Now I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing. I’ve tried making meringue quite a few times before. I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and cookery books that have included various tips and tricks (though admittedly none of them included heating the sugar as the Meringue Girls suggested). Despite all the research I’ve done, whenever I make meringues the bottoms fall out! They stick to the grease proof paper, and I’m left with a shell. Unfortunately Stacey couldn’t explain why and I half expected the same to happen here – perhaps I was cursed?!
After a lot of waiting, eating more meringue and drinking even more Prosecco we got to the final reveal, and to my surprise their bottoms stayed on!!! I genuinely hadn’t been this happy in a while…
With the meringues out of the oven, all that was left to do was package them up. This was just as much fun as the class itself. There was tissue paper, cellophane gift bags, stamps, stickers, boxes and ribbon. We packaged up our meringues with immense pride and all wondered how we would carry them all home! We had made HUNDREDS of the little meringue kisses. If you were to buy the same amount in Harvey Nichols or Selfridges (where you will find them on sale), it would probably cost you the same amount as the ticket for the masterclass! Now that’s what I call value.
After 3 hours of sugar fuelled fun, I was sad to go home. For a start I was on a massive sugar high and I’d loved chatting to like minded women (and the one token man!) I had such a good time, Emma #2 and I even shared a cab back to Kings Cross together.
Jon’s face when I came home with bags and bags of meringue was a picture.
I managed to keep him a way from most of them though as I’d bagged them up as favours for my thanksgiving meal that same weekend.
The rest however, were just for us.
So what did I think of the class as a whole? And would I recommend the Meringue Girls Masterclass? In short, YES! Stacey was really knowledgeable, friendly and down to earth. She was a fab teacher and made it all look so easy, but to be honest I think that’s because it is! The key to meringue really is its simplicity.
I feel quite confidant now that I could recreate the meringues at home so I think the class was a success! I probably could’ve learnt the same from their cookbook but I wouldn’t have had half as much fun.
Have you been on the Meringue Girls masterclass? Or tried any of their tasty treats? Is it something you’d like to do or would you rather experiment in the comfort of your own home? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.