image of a macaron made with meringue

MERINGUE

Meringue represents an extraordinary preparation made of egg whites and sugar that can be used for pastries (as macarons) or to bring air in recipes (as mousses).

Let’s find out how to make it at home!

THE INGREDIENTS

The recipe for classic meringues is straightforward: you only need egg whites and sugar.

Meringue can capture the air thanks to the chemical nature of the egg whites. Egg whites are mainly made up of 85% water and proteins (of which the two main ones are ovalbumin and conalbumin). During the stand mixer’s beating, the shape of the egg white proteins is modified by the whisk’s mechanical action, allowing the air to be incorporated and forming a stable foam.

Meringues
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Image of classic meringues on Biancolievito

HOW TO MAKE MERINGUE

I suggest you start whipping the egg white at room temperature without sugar. Then you can start adding it when the foam will be formed, after about 20seconds.

Some people think that adding some lemon juice facilitates whipping. On the contrary, although it initially helps increase the mass volume, it induces the egg white liquid’s separation, deflating the mixture. I advise adding a pinch of salt, which instead can better stabilize the meringue.

During cooking, the temperature mustn’t be too high to generate too much steam in the oven. That would lead to breaking the base and meringues’ surface (with the exit of the classic sugar drops).

The ideal way to properly bake meringues is to heat them at around 150-160°C (302°F – 320°F) for the first 10 minutes and then bake at 100°C (212°F) for about 2 hours (depending on the size). In case you use a fan oven, I recommend you shield the ventilation to avoid the surface becoming uneven and the development not perfectly vertical.

Once baked, you can safely leave them in the oven turned off and slightly ajar. This extra time will favor a perfect drying of the meringue.

COLORED MERINGUES

If you want to prepare fun colored meringues, the best method is to use powder or gel food coloring.

For this, dissolve the color directly into the egg whites before starting to whip. Keep in mind that cooked meringues’ final color will be slightly lighter than it appears before cooking.

HOW TO MAKE MERINGUE WITH A THERMOMIX

If available, we can also use a thermomix to prepare delicious homemade meringues using cold and hot techniques.

The procedure is effortless: First, put the egg whites and the sugar inside the bowl, using the butterfly accessory to whisk. I recommend you heat the mixture slightly, spinning for 10minutes at speed 2 and setting 40°C (86°F).

When the mixture begins to whip, you can turn off the heat and continue beating for another 5 minutes or so until the mixture will be fluffy.

THE VARIOUS TYPES OF MERINGUE

THE FRENCH MERINGUE

This preparation is suitable for classic meringues.

The standard recipe is:

  • Egg white 100gr
  • Granulated sugar 200gr

Start whipping the egg white at room temperature. When they have foamed (after a few seconds), add 1/3 of the sugar, always whisking at medium speed so that it dissolves.

When a stable foam has formed, begin to slowly add the second part of sugar until the mass is fluffy.

Then incorporate the third and last part of sugar by hand, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon from the bottom up.

Shape as you like with the pastry bag and bake at 120-130°C (248° – 266°F) for about 2 hours. Once cooked, let the meringues cool directly in the turned-off oven.

Egg white to sugar ratio varies between 1:2 to 1:3 (for a more solid meringue)

ITALIAN MERINGUE

It is primarily used to combine air into creams, mousses, and parfaits. Still, it can also be an excellent decoration for flaming desserts. Moreover, using a boiling sugar syrup sanitizes the meringue, making it safer even for raw use (as in a lemon pie decoration).

The standard recipe is:

  • Egg white 100gr
  • Granulated sugar (qty 1) 20gr
  • Water 60gr
  • Granulated sugar (qty 2) 180

Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer with the first quantity of sugar (1). Simultaneously, prepare a syrup with water and sugar (qty 2), cooking it at 121°C (250°F). The syrup’s cooking temperature directly impacts the meringue’s stiffness. The higher the syrup’s cooking point, the stiffer the meringue will be.

Here’s an example. For the Butter Cream preparation, we will opt for a light structure so that the meringue can easily mix with butter, and we will cook the syrup at 116°C (241°F).
When preparing a Chocolate Mousse, we use a stiffer Italian meringue; in this case, we cook the syrup up to 121°C (250°F)

When the syrup is ready, pour the first half of it into the egg whites, continuing to whisk at medium speed. Then pour the last half in a trickle until it is completely incorporated into the mixture.

Once ready, let the meringue chill in the fridge at +4°C (39°F), well covered with a plastic film.

CHOCOLATE MERINGUES

The best way to prepare delicious chocolate meringues is to prepare an “Italian” meringue, using a sugar syrup at 116°C (241°F) and incorporate the melted chocolate at 40°C (104°F) into the mass.

Here is a classic recipe

  • Egg white 100gr
  • Granulated Sugar 300gr
  • Water 100gr
  • Chocolate 70% 80gr
  • Cocoa mass (alternatively use 99% chocolate) 50gr.

Start preparing a syrup of sugar and water that you cook until 116°C (241°F).

When egg whites have already started to foam, pour the first half of syrup, whipping at medium speed, and then finish the preparation with the last half.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave oven (or in a bain-marie) until it reaches 50°C (122°F). Lower its temperature to 40°C (104°F) and gently add it to the meringue.

Once finished, you can shape the meringues on a baking sheet and bake them as explained above

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