Day 1: My attempt at French meringue was an utter failure in appearance, but pretty legitimate in taste. I did not whip the eggs long enough before I started adding sugar. I needed to wait until the egg whites obtained soft peaks.
Day 2: Awesome on all accounts. Never overestimate the power of the foam.
For the meringue: 4 egg whites at room temperature, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Confectioner’s sugar contains corn starch, which will help stabilize the protein structure.
Begin by mixing the egg whites on high speed. You can use a whisk, a hand mixer, or a stand mixer. My boyfriend knows me so well. When in gift-giving doubt, he buys me a kitchen gadget. Thanks to him, I own a beautiful, yellow KitchenAid stand mixer for all of my baking needs.
This initial step was the make-or-break component for my meringues.
On Day 1, I whipped the egg whites until a yellow froth formed before adding the sugar. On Day 2, I let the egg whites whip until they achieved a white foam, and when removing my whisk I saw soft peaks. This allowed for enough air to be incorporated into the meringue.
DO NOT add sugar until you achieve a white foam. Otherwise the meringue will not set up correctly. I did this on Day 1, and I got flat meringue cookies.
Warning: You will probably make a mess in the next step.
Once you have achieved the picture from Day 2, and you notice the soft peaks when removing the whisk, you can start adding the sugar. Add the sugar about 1 Tbs. at a time to let the sugar embed into the mixture.
I was nervous about over-whipping the meringue, but I did some research and found that this process takes a good 15 minutes. It will vary based on your type of bowl and the amount of sugar you prefer.
Add sugar until you notice the eggs whipping into a silky, smooth texture (that’s why I posted a range for the sugar content in the meringue). You can lift your whisk out of the mixture to see if the egg whites can maintain stiff peaks.
I wasn’t fully convinced just by looking at the mixture that it was setting up properly. I decided to watch some YouTube videos to reassure myself, but that didn’t help either. I found that the best way to test the consistency of my meringue was to put some on a clean spoon and physically touch it.
Don’t reach your hands right into the bowl. Oils from your fingers may add fat to the mixture, which can cause your meringue to collapse. Fat and water repel one another, so protein coagulation could become altered.
The meringue on Day 1 was smooth, but a bit runny. The meringue on Day 2 was smooth, yet rubbery, and almost leathery to the touch.
See the difference? I was able to pipe the meringue much more easily on Day 2.
Don’t have a piping bag? No problem!
Take a freezer bag and cut off a tip on one of the bottom corners.
I immediately noticed that something was wrong on Day 1, because as I was piping the meringue it became too soft and collapsed. On Day 2, the mixture held its structure much better, and I was able to make the meringue into fun shapes and sizes.
Preheat the oven to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need 2 baking sheets and parchment paper.
Place the parchment paper on the baking sheet, and pipe the meringue into small cookies, about 1 1/2 inches apart. The differences between Day 1 and Day 2 were remarkable.
Set the oven to cook for 3 hours. That’s right, 3 hours. “Low and slow” is the motto for this round. When the cookies come out of the oven, they should maintain their shape, but they will be crunchy.
Both results had a similar taste. However, the meringue of Day 2 was the most authentic and had more air bubbles incorporated into the texture.
The cookies only take about 5 minutes to cool. Once the meringue is no longer hot, transfer the cookies to an airtight container for storage at room temperature.
Voila, our very first meringue recipe!
There’s no such thing as giving up on this blog. We try until we get it right, and that’s the perfect baking adventure. For our next segment, I’ll let you know what we can do with those leftover egg yolks. There’s no wasting in baking.
As promised, I’ve calculated the nutrition facts. I used the USDA Nutrient Database for the numbers related to the egg whites, and I used the nutrition facts panel that came with my confectioner’s sugar.
Categories: The Magic of Meringue