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What Is Meringue?

The Meringue (La Meringue) is a variable dessert staple, it is light, creamy, crisp from outside, and aerated inside . With only two basic ingredients, egg whites and sugar, you can make so many desserts, like Pavlova, Baked Alaska, Dacquoise, petits-fours, Snow Eggs (Oeufs à la Neige), Floating Island (île Flottante), etc…… also, you can flavor the meringue with chocolate, coffee, lemon, almond, etc… and it serves also as a topping for pies and tarts (see Lemon Tart Recipe). There are four types of Meringue recipes: French, Italian, Swiss, and Polish (not used too much), each one of them has different preparation techniques.

History Of Meringue

According to Wikipedia: it has been claimed that meringue was invented in the Swiss village of Meiringen and improved by an Italian chef named Gasparini between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. However, this claim is contested; the Oxford English Dictionary states that the French word is of unknown origin. The name meringue for this confection first appeared in print in François Massialot’s cookbook of 1692.

How To Make French Meringue?

This is a classic and easy homemade Meringue from scratch recipe, tested in our kitchen. You’ll need:

Ingredients To Make About 300g (~35-40 Meringues Kisses)

  • 2 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 100g superfine sugar
  • 25g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • A pinch of salt (to ensure the egg whites are smooth to whisk)
  • Superfine sugar to dust (optional)

Method

Note: Before starting, prepare your workstation (la mise en place). The bowl and whisks should be very clean. Sift the powdered sugar.

Mousse

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F – 225°F (95°C–105°C/ Gas mark ¼).
  2. On a medium speed, start whisking the egg whites and salt, then whisk on a medium-high speed, until frothy, fairly stiff but not dry.
  3. Add the granulated sugar, in half, and continue beating the stiff whites, then add the remaining sugar slowly with vanilla, keep whisking until the texture is smooth, glossy, firm, and the whites stand in stiff picks (bec d’oiseau) when the whisk is lifted.
  4. With the spatula fold in quickly, lightly and evenly, the powdered sugar, in a clockwise movement. Don’t deflate the meringue.

Shells

  1. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper, or use a silicone baking mat. Spoon the meringue mixture into the pastry bag, and shape rosettes, kisses meringue or use any tip of your choice.
  2. Pipe the meringues shells, spaced well apart (depending on the size, about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch), sprinkle the meringues lightly with superfine sugar, let the meringues to rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle again the powdered sugar (it will give the meringues a beautiful pearl effect).
  3. Cook about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the meringues.
  4. Cool the meringues on a wire rack, and keep them in an airtight container up to one week ahead, if unfilled.

Chef’s Notes:

  • Egg whites should be without any trace of egg yolk, or it will spoil the meringue.
  • The bowl and whisk should be clean, without any residual grease.
  • Ideally, use aged eggs ( 2 to 3 days old).
  • The electric mixer will beat the egg whites quickly, with less volume.
  • Use a wide bowl when using a balloon whisk.
  • Don’t use granulated sugar, which reduce the volume.
  • Meringues should be dry or cooked slowly (slow cooking) to prevent them from becoming tough.

Chef’s Pro Secret:

  • Open the door of your oven a little, and place the meringues on the lowest shelf (the coolest part).
  • For a large batch use vinegar or Cream of Tartar.

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