Making Perfect Meringue
recipes work better with eggs that are at least 3 or 4 days old.
Cold eggs separate more easily than those at room temperature
because the whites hold together better.
separate an egg: Crack the egg and
hold the shell halves over a bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth
between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl. Do not cut the
yolk (whites containing any yolk will not beat properly). Transfer the
yolk to another bowl.
- The tiniest
bit of fat or egg yolk will wreck a meringue. When separating
eggs, if a speck of egg yolk falls into the egg whites, lift it out with
an empty eggshell half. Do not try to fish it out with your fingers;
the oil on your skin will prevent the egg whites from expanding.
separating, bring egg whites to room temperature to ensure
volume when beating, as warmer eggs whip faster than cold eggs. Usually 30
minutes is adequate to obtain room temperature.
stainless-steel, or glass bowls work best for making meringues. Avoid
using plastic bowls for whipping egg whites as they can often harbor
traces of grease, which prevents the whites from getting stiff.
sure that all
your utensils are immaculately clean, completely grease-free, and
completely dry. Meringues are very sensitive and they don't like any moisture.
Don't make meringues on a rainy or really humid day (remember that they
are mostly air and if that air contains a lot of water, it will have an
letting your fingers touch the areas that will come in contact with the
That way, you'll avoid leaving oils from your hands on the utensils you
- Place the egg whites into a large, tall bowl and set
your mixer to its highest speed and start making bubbles! NOTE: I would not hand
beat a meringues (too much work). Beating or whisking causes the protein
in the egg whites to unfold, forming films that trap the air bubbles, and
the sugar stiffens the foam. As the mixing time increases, the bubbles
become smaller and more numerous; this increases the volume and makes a
more-stable structure. (A beaten egg white can increase six to eight times
its original volume.)
- I like to use superfine sugar when making meringue because it
dissolves faster than table sugar. When beating egg whites and the recipe calls for
sugar, add the sugar at the very end when the whites have formed soft peaks.
Gradually add the sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time, beating the whole time.
As a general rule, add a total of 1/4 cup of sugar for each egg white. Do
not make meringues that have less than 2 tablespoons of sugar per egg
white. If you use any less, the foam will not set and the meringue will
tell if the sugar is dissolved when you are beating egg whites for
meringues, rub a bit of the foam between your fingers. If it feels gritty,
the sugar is not dissolved, so keep beating for a few minutes.
varying the amount of sugar in the final mix, you control how hard or soft
the final meringue will be.
For soft peaks - place egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl (not
plastic), and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed or with a rotary
beater until egg whites form peaks with tips that curl over when the beaters
are lifted. For stiff peaks, continue beating egg whites on high speed until
they form peaks with tips that stand straight when the beaters are lifted.
continue beating egg whites on high speed until they form peaks with tips that
stand straight when the beaters are lifted.
you start a making whipped egg whites, continue it straight through and
finish it off. Do not stop halfway to take a break.
meringue is done when it is not runny and when you can hold a spoonful of
it upside down and none of it drops off. Also when you swirl a spoon through
it and the swirls hold their shape indefinitely.
the meringue first - then prepare the filling. Place meringue on the piping-hot filling to begin
cooking the bottom of the meringue. The residual heat
carried by the filling cooks the base of the meringue ever so slightly,
making it less prone to leaking or shrinking.
will become more done if you bake them at a
temperature for a longer time. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
Pies should be stored under an inverted bowl at room temperature. Remember, meringue pies
only last a day or two, and then the meringue starts breaking down. If you
place any cooked meringue in the refrigerator, no matter how long you
baked it, it will bead and weep.
- To cut
baked meringue into serving pieces, use a knife dipped in cold water.