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Boo Meringues? No way!

By Elizabeth Nguyen

INTRODUCTION:

Hi! In my time baking, I’ve come across a wide variety of baked goods. Although some recipes are harder than others, this French meringue recipe strikes me as one of my favorite things to make. I adore these because, unlike a decadently rich chocolate cake, their crisp texture and subtle sweetness are refreshing. To me, meringues are like Pringles; you can’t just eat one. 

Once you get a good grip on the technique (if I can do it, I know you can), you can make these anytime. If you’ve got a couple hours lying around, I highly recommend giving these a shot!

RECIPE:

Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes or more depending on bake time (Prep: 30 minutes)

Yield: about 48 (2-inch) cookies

Important Reminders

  • As long as you work with a ¼ cup : 1 ratio between sugar and egg whites, this recipe is adjustable for however much meringue you want to make.

  • Use the freshest eggs you can get your hands on and let them sit at room temperature before baking. Fresh, room temperature egg whites get the best of both whipping speed and stability.

  • Oil and fat of any kind won’t allow you to whip up egg whites. I recommend cleaning the bowl and the whisk you’re using with white vinegar and water beforehand. If you accidentally break a yolk into your egg whites, start over. A good way to prevent waste and eliminate the risk is to separate your eggs into a separate bowl before adding them.

  • It’s possible to make meringue by hand, but I’d rather you get strong without straining your wrist. If you can, I would recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer to let electricity do the work for you. (If you’re using a hand mixer, don’t let the bowl fall off the table. You may need an extra pair of hands.)

  • Gradual is the key word here. If you add the sugar too fast, your meringue won’t whip up. If you add it too slowly or too late, your mixture will be too airy. I would recommend spooning sugar in 1-2 tablespoons at a time and adjusting your pace as the meringue progresses. Also, keep whisking speed in mind. Start slow and increase the speed as you watch the egg whites whip up. If you start too fast, you put the final volume of the meringue at risk.

  • You can get creative with additives after the meringue is whipped – for example, cocoa powder and peppermint oil to taste makes great mint chocolate meringues. I’ve also tried a little bit of ground instant coffee and cocoa powder to make mocha-flavored meringues. Just make sure that if you’re working with liquid flavorings, less is more.

  • Clean up as you go. My least favorite part of baking is the sink full of dishes after a recipe. If you clean up as you work (ex. putting your ingredient containers away before you begin the whipping process), then there will be less to worry about at the end. For this recipe, the meringues will be spending a lot of time in the oven so you might as well finish up the cleanup before you have to take them out.

  • Especially on humid days, these don’t keep for more than a few days, so enjoy them as quickly as possible (not that they won’t disappear within a couple days anyway). If you do want to store them, use an airtight container to minimize moisture.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs (3 whites)
  • Pinch cream of tartar (recommended)
  • Pinch salt (recommended)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Other additives/flavorings (optional)

Equipment

  • Electric mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer)
  • Rubber spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Piping bags and tips (optional)
  • Additional small bowls (optional)

Directions

  • Gather all ingredients; nobody likes to scramble in a panic when baking.
  • Clean your equipment to eliminate all oils and fats.
  • Separate the 3 eggs and set the yolks inside. Make sure no yolk is in the eggs.
  • If using, add the cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla extract now. Other additives must wait until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
  • Start whisking the egg whites at low speed. When you can start to see a little foam forming, add a single tablespoon of sugar and let them whip up.
  • As you observe the meringue progressing (becoming more opaque, glossy, and solid), gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time. 
  • Continue until you see stiff, glossy peaks. This means that as you remove the whisk from the bowl, the meringue it drags behind will create peaks that stay in place. If you pinch a little bit between your fingers, you shouldn’t be able to feel any sugar grains in the meringue.
  • Gently fold in any other additives you may be using.
  • Preheat the oven to 215℉.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip* and pipe the meringues onto a sheet of parchment set on top of the baking sheet. These cookies shouldn’t expand very much during baking, so you can afford to place them as close as about a centimeter apart.
  • *If you don’t have a piping bag, take two spoons and place dollops of meringue onto the parchment paper. 
  • Once the oven is at 215℉, place the filled baking sheet onto the middle rack and bake for 1.5-2 hours or until crisp. A good way to tell when they are done is if the bottoms of the meringues separate cleanly/easily from the parchment and the inside is dry but chewy.
  • Remove the meringues from the oven and allow them to cool. 
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature or serve immediately (would recommend demolishing the whole batch in one go) with fruit, ice cream, or even alone.

I promise you’ll get hooked on their crisp, delicately sweet bite, so please give this recipe a try; best of luck, & have a lovely day!

Classic Vanilla Meringues (pictured in front)
Mint Chocolate Meringues

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