Meringue Magic

Meringues are delicately light, crisp, and delicious. You just need to pop them in your mouth and let them work their magic. They just melt away. Meringues are crisp on the outside and chewy at the heart of it. They taste great with a variety of stuff such as whipped cream, fresh fruits, ganache, in between cakes, or just by themselves.

Coming to the science of it, meringues are made using just egg whites and sugar. You can also add a stabilizing agent like lemon juice or cream of tartar. You can flavor the meringue using vanilla or nut extracts. Adding food color to them also makes them super fun to use as cake decorations. The key to getting a good meringue is beating egg whites with superfine sugar till you get stiff peaks.

Once you read the instructions carefully and try your hand at it, you will realize how easy these are to whip up. I agree the instructions can be overwhelming but you need to just get over it and try it. Meringues will be you go to fix for a dessert craving.

You can serve them with deserts, as deserts, or even give them away as party favors. One of my sisters gave them away alongside Easter eggs as part of a small gift arrangement to the kids. Trust me on this, the kids and their parents were raving about them for days.

Before I started off whipping them, I went through a couple of links and videos available on the internet. It helps! Here are a few links for you to research:

Joy of Baking: Meringue Cookies

Nigella Community Recipe: Basic Meringue

This one here is a little different. But, if it interests you, you can try it out.

BBC Good Food: Ultimate Meringue

This is what I used ultimately. You will see that I mostly went with the instructions from Joy of Baking: Meringue Cookies:

Ingredients

3 egg whites

¾ cup caster (superfine) sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place a sheet of parchment paper on the baking trays.
  2. Place the egg whites in a bowl and use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites till foamy and peaks are soft but still able to hold up. They should cling to the whisk when it is raised from the bowl.
  3. Now gradually add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue to beat. Make sure the sugar is completely incorporated with the egg whites.
  4. Note that this will take some time. You need to keep whipping till the sugar has been completely dissolved. You can check this by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers to see if you can feel any grains of sugar.
  5. The final meringue will be fluffy and glossy. The texture closely resembles that of toothpaste but will be light. You can fold in any flavors, nuts, or food colors you want at this stage. Do not whisk it in or stir. Only gently fold it in.
  6. Once ready, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a piping nozzle to place the cookies on the prepared trays. I use the Wilton nozzle 2D.
  7. Bake these at the same temperature for at least an hour and a half. Midway through the baking, you can move/rotate the trays to ensure uniform baking. To check if these are done just touch the meringues lightly. They should feel firm and crisp. They should be pale colored and easily lift off the sheet.
  8. When these are baked through, just put off the oven and let them sit in the oven itself overnight. You can leave the oven door slightly open. This will help to further dry out the meringues. It is absolutely necessary to do that. Do not skip this step however tempting it may be. OK fine maybe you can pop a few in your mouth as soon as they are done.  I did that too. But just to check if they are done alright. Do not judge me!
  9. Here are a few pictures of my first and second attempt at them. I personally prefer them a little toasted. I also tried a batch with vanilla essence but it just ruined the taste for me.

Extra pointers for a good meringue

  1. Here are a few extra tips that I gathered from the different sites I read about whipping a good and stable meringue:
  2. For the meringue to form well, make sure your whisk and bowl are as clean as they can be. Wash them in warm water and clean with a dry cotton cloth. Make sure they are dry and have no lint. Metal, glass or copper bowls work best for this.
  3. Cold eggs separate better. So separate the yolks from the white as soon as you take out the eggs from the refrigerator. I used the bottle suction technique to separate the eggs.
  4. Let the egg whites sit on the counter till they reach room temperature. Egg whites at room temperature reach their highest volume.
  5. Use superfine sugar only.
  6. When adding sugar to the meringue, add it gradually beating thoroughly between each addition to ensure the sugar is well incorporated.
  7. Do not over beat the meringue.
  8. When piping the meringue, hold the bag at the top. Do not hold and press directly over the meringue because it might cause it to deflate.
  9. Once dried out in the oven overnight, you can store meringues at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days.

Give these a try and I hope you will love these as much as I did.

Happy whipping!

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