Meringues Are Like Unicorns
Recently I became obsessed with meringues. Why? Because I have a friend who has so many allergies she is nearly impossible to feed that’s why. She can eat eggs and berries so that means making one of my favorite desserts, an Eton Mess. (I have blogged about this before.) I have never made homemade meringues because to me, meringues were like unicorns, elusive and impossible to capture correctly. Well, Dear Readers, I was wrong. Meringues are fun to make and only require time since they take about three hours to make. Right about now you may be thinking to yourself, “ Self. Why unearth what I spent three hours making something that I can go to the store and grab from a shelf and three seconds?” The answer? Because it’s very rewarding to make and share a unicorn; at least for me.
Since I don’t have a recipe of my own, I began we’re all red-blooded Americans begin things these days they don’t have a recipe for, the Internet. I compared many sites, techniques and baking methods. I saw recipes that add lemon juice and does that add vanilla extract. I saw a recipe is that heat the sugar and those that don’t. In the end, I melded several techniques and methods to come up with, what I believe to be an excellent blending and a scrummy meringue. I decided to pipe my meringues but the plop method works too.
The best part about making meringues? All those leftover yolks make for excellent fodder for making pasta! I recommend the Epicurious app as a great place to start and to use the Eton Mess fruit recipe there. Strawberries or any type of berry will work great. I even used some frozen berries from this past summer and added some fresh ones at the end of the cooking process and it was great. The recipe is based off a French patisserie method so grams are shown.
150 grams super fine sugar
75 grams egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Dash of cream of tartar
Yield 6 large or 12 small meringues
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
Pour the sugar onto the sheet and spread it out into an even layer. Warm in the oven as it is preheating for 5–6 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200°.
While the sugar is heating up, put the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar into the clean bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk whites on medium speed until they form stiff peaks. Reduce speed to medium-low. Slowly whisk in the warm sugar, a teaspoon at a time, fully mixing before adding the next teaspoon. (I used the parchment paper like a funnel to do this.) Use the whisk attachment to clean the sides of the bowl as needed so all the sugar gets incorporated. When all the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whisk for 8–10 minutes longer or until the mixture is thick, glossy and no longer gritty. (The first time I made meringues, my mixture was a bit gritty and the meringues were slightly chewy.) Your meringue is now ready to pipe or plop and bake.
Bake 2-2 1/2 hours (depending on the size of the meringue) at 200 degrees. Turn off oven and leave meringues in the oven to completely cool. Store airtight up to 10 days.
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