Meringues are super easy to make, aren’t they? I can’t count the times I have tried to make them: everything went wrong! Only failure and frustration!
Then I found a super easy recipe and I got very fond of meringues. Here is what I have done! Crispy, perfectly baked inside, smooth and intact outside, as prefect as those you may but at your favorite bakery.
As white as snow, crispy and soft at the same time, these melt-in-your-mouth delicacies may garnish any types of soft desserts and cakes. Those who have a very sweet tooth crumble them into the coffee or hot chocolate. A seductive foam made of only two ingredients: egg whites and sugar. It is the perfect recipe not to throw away the whites left from other preparation: the tiramisu or the custard, for instance.
Here I am writing the recipe of the “French meringues” which became integral part of a lot of Italian sweets. Does a genuine Italian meringues exist? Yes, of course: the way you whip the egg makes the difference; the Italian method is more elaborated and a syrup thermometer is needed. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks; pour in some sugar syrup at 121°C (68°F) while the mixer is running. Keep on beating until completely cold.
The French recipe doesn’t want any pasteurization process with warm sugar syrup, but the egg whites and the sugar are whipped directly in the stand mixer.
A piece of advice; if you add a few drops of lemon, the batter will get more glossy and foamy. I have tried it, it works! But most of all, it makes your meringues pleasantly citrus scented.
Keep in mind: do not use salt- it may favor the whipping process, but it also destabilizes the foam of the meringues.
Baking is the most part of the recipe
The recipe is super easy, but the cooking process is quite tricky. You have to bake them in static oven at 90°-100°C (194°-212°F) for 20 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 75°-80°C (167°-176°F).
Our kitchen ovens hardly ever keep the temperatures constant, so under control your meringues all the time- if the temperature is too high, they will get yellowish and cracks on the surface will appear. Bake for 3 hours- you can open the oven door every then and now in order to make sure your meringues are cooking well. Keep in mind: if they crack on the surface, you have to decrease the temperature. After one and hour and a half, wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon to prevent overheating and bake for 30 minuets more. Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool down with slightly open the door for 5-6 hours, or even overnight.
How to bake the typical French meringues step by step: the Italian way!
- 200 gr
egg whites (about 6 eggs) at room temperature
- 440 gr
fresh organic lemon wedge
- Opt for only extra fresh eggs; the older the whites are the more unstable the farm will be; fresh eggs have been laid recently.
- Crack the eggs and divide the yolks from the whites; be careful not to drop any yolk into the whites; fat prevents the foam from whipping;
- Preheat the oven at 75°C (167°F);
- Weigh the egg whites directly in the bowl of the stand mixer (I use a kitchenAid) and whisk at medium speed (speed 6);
- Add 220gr of sugar a little a time, let the stand mixer run for a couple of minutes;
- Increase the speed (to 8);
- Squeeze the lemon and beat at high speed (10);
- Beat the mix until stiff peaks, for about 10 minutes. Test your foam like this. Visive test: the foam must be glossy, foamy, super sable, without any grains; if you turn the bowl upside down, the foam won’t drop. The whisk test: dip the whisk in the foam and lift it-firm peaks stand straight. If the foam is not ready, no worries: keep on whisking.
- Sieve the remaining sugar and use a spatula to fold it in with gentle upwards movements, be careful because it may go flat very easily;
- Meringues must be baked as soon as they are piped out, so rub a little butter on a baking tray and line it with parchment paper;
- Fill a star tipped piping bag with the foam and pipe 3 cm diameter meringues; if they are the same size, they will bake evenly. Remember to leave enough space because they will increase in size;
- Bake in static oven for 3 hours: they will dry very slowly. Meringues are done when the centre is dry; leave to cool down completely and remove from the tray. As their baking is quite long you should prepare meringues the day before and let them in the turned off oven overnight: they will get perfectly dry and crumbly.
How you can store meringues
The French meringues keep for very long time (due to the high content of sugar which is a natural preservative) as long as they do not get wet. So, put them into an airtight container at room temperature. You may also freeze them.
A special variant…
You may change their shape: round, small mushrooms, small meringues, half cookies sandwiched with chocolate custard; what about frosting them with chocolate cream? Set your imagination free.
If you want to give a shade of color, you may divide the foam into as many bowls as many colors you want: add a little powder food color to each bowl. First make a test: add a pinch of color to a spoon of foam, then color all the content of the bowl. Mix well with upward movements, be careful: the foam goes flat easily.
You may also enrich them with some species: cinnamon or anise or cocoa powder.
They will be really tempting!