Meringues

Meringues

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Makes
36

There are many variations of meringue – all based on egg white and sugar beaten to a stiff froth, then baked. They include small meringues, baked in a very slow oven until light and crisp. Glamorous vacherins, dainty petits fours and mountainous fluffy pie toppings are all favourites. Meringues are usually plain but a flavouring may be added such as chopped nuts, chocolate or coconut.

Meringue mixture can be shaped and used in many different ways. Small buttons or rosettes baked until dry and crisp may be joined together with whipped cream to make a delicious sweet for afternoon tea or dessert. These tiny meringues may also be used as a topping for desserts or cakes. Another popular way is to shape meringue with an oval dessertspoon or tablespoon, and these ovals may be joined with whipped cream to form an egg shape. Meringue is often made into a pie shell or basket – individual baskets are very popular, and these may be filled with fruit, whipped cream or any number of creamy desserts.

A light meringue is often piled onto a baked, sweet pie or pudding and placed in a moderately hot oven just long enough to tint the meringue; it should be soft and marshmallow-like inside; the crust may be crisp or soft, depending on the treatment.

Another favourite meringue is the pavlova, which, with whipped cream and tart-sweet passionfruit or strawberries, is a dessert sweet-tooths can never resist.

To prepare meringue: Egg whites for meringue should be at room temperature and beaten with a pinch of salt, cream of tartar, or a few drops of lemon juice. This may be done in a copper bowl with a wire whisk or a glass bowl and electric beaters. The slightest trace of yolk in the whites will inhibit their rising (yolks contain fat). The same holds true for bowl and beater: both must be totally free of fat or grease. It is best to wash the bowl and beater with hot water and dry them with a clean, fresh towel before beating the whites.

Part of the sugar should be added gradually at first, after the whites become foamy. The meringue has been sufficiently whipped when the whites form soft peaks and cling to the beater in a mass. You have over-beaten if they look dry and stand in sharp, jagged peaks, and the mixture will probably fall when placed in the oven. Then the remaining sugar is folded in. To do this, cut gently down through the mixture and lift some mixture up and over onto the top, repeating until whites and sugar are lightly mixed. Don’t worry about mixing thoroughly; it is important not to overwork meringue or air bubbles will break down. Shaping meringues will mix whites and sugar a little more.

The oven temperature should be as low as possible. The point is to dry the meringue by getting all the moisture out of the mixture rather than baking it. A temperature of 120°C is as high as it should go. Higher than this, the meringues brown too quickly, turn leathery and collapse. Properly baked, a meringue is crisp, feather-light, the palest bisque in colour, almost white. If liked, meringues may be dusted lightly with caster sugar before baking.

Bake meringues for about 1 hour, although they may be left in the turned-off oven to crisp. Once they are completely cool, meringues keep a long time in airtight containers. Excess moisture in the air makes them soggy, so it is best not to bake meringues on a very damp or rainy day or have anything steaming on the stove when they are out of the oven and cooling on wire racks.

The baking trays for meringues should either be lightly buttered, dusted with flour, and the excess flour tapped off, or they may be covered with non-stick baking paper. Baking trays coated with non-stick surfaces are also excellent.

This basic meringue mixture may be used for tiny miniature meringues, joined together with whipped cream and set in paper cases, or used for different kinds of desserts, meringue baskets, swans, etc.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
230g caster sugar

Method

  1. Beat egg whites on very low speed of electric mixer until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating for 2–3 minutes. Add all remaining sugar at once and fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.
  2. Pipe onto baking trays that have been lightly buttered and floured or lined with non-stick baking paper. Alternatively, shape meringue mixture with 2 spoons. Bake in a preheated cool oven for 1 hour. Ease meringues with spatula and leave in oven for a further 30 minutes or until dry. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Variations

  • Meringue shell: Prepare meringues mixture. Spread or pipe over bottom and sides of a greased 20–23 cm pie plate, building it up on the outside edge. Bake in a preheated cool oven for 1–1½ hours or until surface is set and crusty but only just coloured. Loosen meringue shell from pie plate while still warm, and cool before filling.

    The meringue will crisp as it cools. Use this for cream pies. If liked the meringue may be shaped on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Mark an 18–20 cm circle on the paper and use this as a guide, spreading or piping meringue inside circle, building up the outer edge. Bake as above.

    Individual meringue shells: Prepare meringues mixture. Line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Mark 8 cm circles on paper, leaving at least 5 cm space between circles. Spread or pipe meringue mixture inside circles, building up outer edges. Bake in a preheated cool oven for 1–2 hours. Turn oven off, turn cases over and allow to cool in oven. Use as shells for fresh fruit salad with whipped cream, fruit fool or other creamy desserts.
Tags:
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again