If I had to pick a favorite treat, meringue would definitely give cake a run for its money. I think it is definitely the world’s most delightful treat. It’s extremely light, crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle and literally melts in your mouth! I love to see someone’s surprised reaction when they try for the first time and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t LOVE it!
Every time I make meringue, someone asks me how I do it because they know it’s so hard to make, but that just isn’t true! Meringue IS a long process, but not a difficult one and it can be made days and even a week in advance, so you can prepare ahead of time if you’re making it for an event.
Meringue is made of only four ingredients… egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar and extract. Super simple and stuff most of is have on hand. The trick to making meringue is to respect your egg whites. They can be temperamental, but with just a couple of tips, you’ll be just fine.
First thing is that your egg whites need to be room temperature. Pull your eggs out of the fridge a couple hours before you start or even the night before. If you need to bring them up to temperature more quickly, you can soak them in warm water for a few minutes but make sure that they are completely dry before you separate your whites because even a drop of water in your egg whites will prevent them from whipping up.
No water. No yolk. No nothing in that bowl other than egg whites. I like to separate my eggs in a bowl and pour the white into my mixing bowl one at a time. That way, if you’re on egg 8 and your yolk cracks and spills into your bowl, you don’t have to start all over.
You’ll use your whip attachment on the mixer and whip the whites for a minute or so until they start to foam. At this point, add your cream of tartar to help stabilize the whites while they whip. Keep going for a few minutes until they reach a ‘soft peak’ which is pretty much exactly how it sounds. Still foamy, but not super stiff and not dry.
At this point, you’ll start add your sugar to the bowl very slowly. It can take 5-10 minutes to incorporate the sugar. If you don’t mix it long enough, the sugar will. Let and pool in the oven and burn on the bottom of your baking sheet, which isn’t pretty. You can tell when your done because your meringue will be very stiff and glossy. This is when you add your vanilla or other extract and any food coloring. Just beat the extract in and scrape the side to make sure it’s all incorporated.
Spread or pipe the meringue into a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Get creative, the meringue will do exactly what you tell it to, so make little kisses or large pavlova. Bake at a very low setting, I like 185 degrees, but you can go up to 200 if your oven won’t go that low. Bake them low and slow and almost dry out the meringue more than bake… at least an hour or hour and half for larger meringues.
When the baking is done, DON’T open the oven. You want to keep the cold air away from your fragile egg whites, so just turn off your oven let them sit until it cools. For this reason, I love making these at night and just going to bed.
And there you go. Yes, it takes a while, but no, it isn’t hard. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
And check out my segment on Fox 13 The Place here for the tutorial!
Basic Meringue Recipe
- 8 egg whites at room temperature
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
– line cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 185
– pour egg whites into a clean and dry mixing bowl with whip with whip attachment until foamy
– add cream of tartar and continue to whip until egg whites reach ‘soft peaks’
– slowly add sugar over several minutes and continue to whip until sugar is fully incorporated and egg whites are stiff and glossy
– add any extract and food coloring
– pipe onto lined cookie sheet as desired and bake at 185 degrees for 1.5 hours
– turn oven off and allow meringue to cool in the oven without opening the door