Meringues are a royal treat. Legend has it that Marie Antoinette loved meringue kisses so much, she often made them herself. So whether you’re making your meringues for the royal family or just your family, this elegant dessert is bound to please.
Meringues are built around sugar and egg whites. But despite this simplicity, there are a number of techniques to making the perfect meringues.
1) Look at your weather forecast. Heavy humidity will cause the meringues to weep, toughen, and lose their volume.
2) Keep clean. Make sure your mixing bowls and beaters are spotless; any oils from your fingers or specks from previous dishes will inhibit the egg whites from whipping. Along these lines, be sure that the egg whites themselves are spotless. Any egg yolk will have the same inhibiting effect.
3) Be patient. Separate the eggs while cold, but then allow the egg whites to reach room temperature. Egg whites at room temperature will produce a greater volume. (Though for food safety reasons, don’t let the eggs sit out for longer than 30 minutes).
4) Add your ingredients when it’s appropriate. Add cream of tartar at the beginning of the beating to stabilize the egg whites – use 1/8 of teaspoon for every two egg whites. Add the sugar after soft peaks have formed and do so gradually, adding a few tablespoons at a time.
5) Stop beating at the right time. Overbeating reduces the volume and gives the meringues a curdled look. Underbeating will cause the meringues to shrink and have a slick surface. You want to beat the egg whites until the meringue turns glossy, and when the beaters are lifted, the egg whites form stiff, pointed picks that do not fall over.
I have not tried this, but some articles recommend adding cornstarch to the meringue to prevent overcooking. For every four egg whites, dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch into 1/3 cup of cold water. Heat the mixture until the starch thickens, and then set aside to cool. After the sugar has been added to the meringue, you would add the cool cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.
This recipe comes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. I didn’t love the raspberry sauce. It was a little heavy for a very light dessert. I would recommend serving the sauce separately (and perhaps sparingly). Otherwise, the combination of meringues, berries, and whipped cream was wonderful!
P.S. Be sure and save all those egg yolks – you can use them to make Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Bundt Cake.
Recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 2 hours, plus at least 4 hours for cooling
YIELD: 8 to 10 Meringues
WHAT TO GRAB:
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints of assorted berries
Whipped Cream (find my recipe here)
4 ounces fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup seedless (if possible) raspberry jam
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (optional)
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a drinking glass, draw six circles on the parchment paper, dark enough so you can see the outline when you flip the paper. Turn the paper over so the ink is face down.
2. In a clean, metal mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until soft peaks have formed. Working in tablespoon batches, slowly add the sugar over high speed, beating until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the vanilla.
3. Fit a star-shaped pastry tip into a large plastic bag (I like the gallon-size Ziploc bags). Fill half of the bag with the meringue. Piping continuously, trace two layers of the meringue around the circle, one layer right on top of the other. For presentation points, pipe a small star in the middle – it will make a nice garnish later.
4. Bake the meringues for two hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp, but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for at least four hours, and up to overnight.
5. Place the raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about four minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam, and framboise into a mixing bowl, and process with an immersion blender until smooth. (You can also use a food processor).
6. Pour a small puddle of the raspberry sauce on a saucer or small plate. Lay the meringue on the sauce and fill each shell with whipped cream. Garnish and top with the mixed berries!