Meringue

Meringue

I learned to make meringue at culinary school and soon forgot all about them – until a home exchange in Bordeaux and Paris a summer ago.  Everywhere I looked, meringue were piled high in bakery windows as if they were something special.  

My twin daughters begged me to buy them.  

“Girls, they’re only egg whites and sugar.  I can make these any day.  Buy something special — we’re in France!”

“But Mom, meringue is special and you NEVER make them.”

Sometimes it takes a child, or two, to point out the obvious.

Originally published in EAT Magazine Nov/Dec 2011 issue.

Makes about 10 – 12

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup extra fine granulated sugar (berry sugar)
  • 1 ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam

Photo by Caroline West

Your mixing bowl and whisk must be scrupulously clean  — the egg whites will not increase in volume if inadvertently mixed with traces of fat (like egg yolk).

Preheat oven to 250F

Using a standup or handheld mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until the volume has tripled. Slowly add the sugar in small batches, continuing to whip as you do so.  Increase the speed to high and whip until you have glossy, stiff peaks.  Reduce the  speed to low, add the cornstarch and vinegar and whisk until incorporated.

The meringue can be gently spooned into 3” – 4″ portions onto a parchment-lined baking tray or spooned into a pastry bag and piped onto a lined tray.  A piping bag, available at cookware stores, will give you a more professional result.  (I use a piping tip with a ¾” opening.) Dip a small knife into a bit of jam and gently drag the jam around the unbaked meringues to create a marbled effect.

Bake for about an hour until the meringues are dry. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven until they cool.  The meringues will crack slightly.  Cooled meringue can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place for a few days.

Note – at Christmas, I use puréed cranberries instead of jam.

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