Meringues are a fairly simple dessert to make but often strike fear into the heart of many home cooks.
They can be a little intimidating but with care, attention and the right ingredients you can make some fantastic dessert dishes.
We show you how to make meringue, so you can have a go yourself.
What Is Meringue?
Meringue is a dessert which originated in France and is traditionally made by whipping together egg whites and sugar.
Occasionally an acidic ingredient is included such as lemon juice, cream of tartar, or vinegar. A binding agent like salt, gelatin or flour may also be added.
The finished product should be stiff peaks which form light and airy desserts. Some are baked to create a crispy confection while others are soft with a crispy exterior.
Meringue can be eaten by itself as cookies or as a topping or base for other desserts.
There are several types of meringue presentation including French, Swiss, Italian and vegan meringue.
Each of these types have a different method of preparation with the French method being the one most home cooks use as it is quite straightforward.
The ingredients needed to make meringue are:
- 5 egg whites
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
The eggs used to make meringue should be as fresh as you can get them and at room temperature.
You shouldn’t use carton or boxed egg whites as these will have been processed. This can prevent the meringues from getting their glossy sheen or forming stiff peaks.
An ultrafine pure cane sugar such as confectioners sugar is the best type to use for meringue as it dissolves quickly and doesn’t leave a gritty texture. Granulated sugar can be used too.
Cream Of Tartar
Adding cream of tartar to a meringue mixture gives more stability to the foam structure. It’s an added safeguard for the success of your meringue.
Putting salt into the meringue mixture allows the coagulation of the proteins in the egg whites. It reduces the pH of the egg whites and reduces the chance of them being over whipped.
It’s not necessary to add vanilla to your meringue mixture, but it does add an extra layer of flavor.
Instructions For Making Meringue
Meringue making is not a complicated process, but it does require patience and a good eye.
- Separate your eggs and put the egg whites into a stainless steel bowl.
- Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites on low to medium speed until they start to get frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract.
- Increase the speed of your mixer to medium to high and beat the mixture until it begins to form soft peaks.
- Gradually add the sugar as you continue to whisk the egg whites. The peaks should become stiff and glossy.
- Pipe or spoon the meringue onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 ½ hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips For Making Meringue
To make the best meringue there are some tips that you should follow.
- Make sure that the bowl and mixer you are using are completely free from any kind of fat or grease. This includes even the smallest amount of oil on your beaters or a small amount of egg yolk that got in your egg whites. It will prevent peaks forming.
- Add the sugar slowly and gradually, just a little at a time. This ensures that the egg whites absorb all the sugar and doesn’t make a gritty texture. It also reduces the risk of the meringues collapsing and increases the chances of getting stiff peaks.
- The egg whites that you use should be room temperature, but it is easier to separate eggs when they’re cold.
- Add food coloring when you add the vanilla extract and use gel food coloring to avoid additional liquid being added to the meringue mixture.
- You can use a hand mixer, stand mixer or large balloon whisk to make meringue.
- On hot or humid days it is more difficult to make meringue. If possible choose a low humidity day
- Crack eggs into separate bowls before adding to the mixing bowl, so you can remove any shell or start again if you accidentally get some yolk in there.
Depending on the texture that you want for your meringue you can bake them for more or less time.
Crispy meringues can be cooked for 1 ½ hours in an oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven door slightly open. They should be light and crispy when done.
For slightly chewy meringue cookies you can bake them for 15 minutes less.
When piping or spooning meringues onto a baking tray use parchment paper or a silpat mat which is non-stick.
Let the meringues cool completely before removing them from the tray or mat.
What Is Meringue Used For?
How To Store Meringue
Meringue should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place in your kitchen and will keep for up to a week.
It doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Be aware that meringue is hygroscopic, so it does draw moisture out of the air. Keep the meringue away from moisture and humidity and avoid making meringue on hot, humid days, or you may find that they sweat.
We hope that you have enjoyed this guide on how to make meringue and that it has given you some inspiration for trying some meringue recipes of your own.