Mysterious Meringue

Lemon meringue cupcakes  has to be one of my favorites , but some people shudder at the word meringue thinking it holds this untold mystery that only well read cooks can obtain . wrong….

There are 3 types of meringue

  1. French meringue (uncooked)
  2. Italian meringue (partially cooked)
  3. Swiss meringue  (cooked)

Your probably thinking cooked and uncooked ?!? well yes just because you caramelize them all at the end does not mean they are cooked , its in the process’s

  1. French uses caster sugar , slowly incorporated into egg whites it also uses a stabilizing agent mainly lemon juice or cream of tartar   and is usually used as the topping in the classic lemon meringue pie, it can be cooked buy making meringues and letting them bake and dry out . I find it becomes weepy over time which tends to make the rest of the desserts its sitting on soggy .
  2. Italian meringue uses a hot sugar syrup , which partially cooks the meringue as the egg white cooks at anywhere between 63ºC – 65ºC , this type is usually used in the classic baked Alaska or the macaroon
  3. Swiss meringue is completely cooked , made buy combining egg whites and sugar over a double boiler , heating till all the sugar is dissolved , then whipping it up to get those lovely spikey peaks . this type is usually used in frosting as it does not require any baking , does not weep and lasts a lot longer than its counterparts .

Personally having tried these all , the easiest and most versatile is the Swiss meringue , it also has a smoother almost liquid marshmallow texture which I love .

Recipes :

French Meringue 

Ingredients :

  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Method:

Whisk  egg whites,  and cream of tartar with a mixer on medium-low speed until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until sugar dissolves and soft peaks form. Gradually increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form , lastly add vanilla . You can use it immediately or alternatively pipe it out on a sheet of baking paper , place on a pan and bake for 2 hours at 90ºC , turn off oven and allow to dry . Or use to cover a tea time favorite and add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue 

Italian Meringue

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Method :

Bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook, undisturbed, until syrup registers 248 degrees on a candy thermometer.Whisk  egg whites with a mixer on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks form .at a constant speed  pour hot syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream , once halfway Increase speed to high, and beat until stiff and glossy , lastly add vanilla . You can use it immediately or alternatively pipe it out on a sheet of baking paper , place on a pan and bake for 2 hours at 90ºC , turn off oven and allow to dry . Or use to  incorporate into  a frosting,macaroon or as decoration , add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue 

Swiss Meringue 

Ingredients :

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Method:

Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer and not boil as it will cook eggs to quickly and leave streaks of egg  white in the meringue .Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch they usually double in size and become thick and glossy. Test by rubbing between your fingers – you should feel no sugar granules an it should be warm and light.Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use meringue immediately as if left it forms a crust .Or use to  incorporate into  a frosting, or as piping decoration , add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue – this meringue is great as its marshmallow consistency make great smores, spiky cupcakes and is the most versatile of all .

I hope this helps shed some light on the age old mystery of meringue , and if a first you don’t succeed try try again .

My first time making french meringue I had to throw away 7 batches and finally got the knack of it on the 8th try , so don’t be afraid of a little egg white , with a little perseverance, patience and imagination – meringue can turn any dessert around .

meringe

Have a Cakalisious day

🙂