Meringue may look like it’s made of marshmallow fluff, but it’s actually a sweet foam made from egg whites and sugar. Beat those ingredients together and like magic, they transform into a silky texture that you can use to make everything from this Lemon Meringue Tart to our gorgeous macarons You can also fold meringue into custard for an airy, creamy pie filling...
The invention of meringue in 1720 is attributed to a Swiss pastry cook named Gasparini. Meringues are eaten as small “kisses” or as cases and toppings for fruits, ice cream, puddings, and the like. Shapes are piped onto a baking sheet through a pastry bag and dried out thoroughly in a slow oven.
Italian and Swiss meringues are cooked. French meringue is baked.
Italian meringue is made by slowly beating hot sugar syrup into stiffly beaten egg whites and is used in frostings and atop pies and cakes as our fabulous Lemon Meringue Tart.
Swiss meringue is made by dissolving sugar and egg whites together over simmering water and then beating in an electric mixer. It is often used as a base for buttercream frostings.
French meringue is made by gradually adding ultrafine sugar to whipped uncooked egg whites until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. The meringue is then piped into shapes and baked. It has a light, crisp texture and is often used as a “nest” to hold fruit or sorbets or to our delicious macarons.
In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Gradually stir in the cold water. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture turns clear. Then transfer it into a bowl, and pop it in the fridge to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and vanilla until the mixture thickens. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Lastly, beat in the chilled cornstarch mixture on high until soft peaks form and the sugar is dissolved. If you keep beating for too long, you’ll get stiff peaks.
Soft meringue has a delicate texture that starts to curl into peaks when you lift it out of the bowl but melts back into itself within a few seconds. Here’s how to make a meringue that’s soft enough to make a pillowy topping for your favorite Lemon Meringue Tart !
Don’t have vanilla extract on hand? Opt for another complimentary flavor for your dessert to make it your own.