College Cooking: how to master meringues

Disclaimer: This is not my recipe. This recipe is courtesy of Amy from Neurotic Mom Bakes on YouTube and @neuroticmom on Instagram.

Easter was just a few days away, and I wanted to try to make meringues because I needed a challenge. I found out while baking that they were a lot easier than what I’ve heard, but still a challenging dessert to master. Take that with a grain of salt because I am a seasoned baker and have made things like pavlova and angel food cake before. With that, I hope that this recipe makes sense and helps anyone who is very new to baking understand how to make meringues.

I made a total of four batches of meringues. Yellow flavored lemon meringues, orange with red stripes orange-flavored meringues, pink with pink sprinkles flavored with vanilla, and blue with blue stripes also flavored vanilla.

This is a very time- and temperature-sensitive recipe. The egg whites need to be as close to room temperature as possible. Also make sure that the oven is at the proper temperature by using an oven thermometer. If the oven is too cold, they won’t dry properly. If the oven is too hot, they will cook too fast which could possibly deflate and deform them. Make sure to not over-whisk the egg whites otherwise they will go from stiff peaks to breaking and you will lose all of the tiny bubbles and can no longer make proper meringues.

I recommend you use cream of tartar in the recipe. I did not have any in my kitchen, and while they turned out just as well, if you want to have fine detail from start tips, the cream of tartar will greatly help. It also helps to stabilize the egg whites while whisking.

Do not add the color or flavoring too early because it could deflate your eggs. Be careful of how much flavor you are adding so that the cookies do not end up with a very strong flavor. If you want to color a batch with multiple colors, you will need to separate the meringue into bowls and color individually. This will also mean you will need more piping bags, one for each color. The colors will likely change to a little more yellowed color while in the oven, this is normal. The color change is from them baking/ drying in the oven.

I had the luxury of using a stand mixer when making these. If you do not have one, an electric hand mixer will work as well. I would not advise you try to whisk egg whites by hand. Also, if you don’t have a proper piping bag, tips, and coupler you can always just use a plastic bag with a small cut in the corner.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar – optional but if you have it, it helps greatly in stabilizing the egg whites while whipping
  • food coloring – optional
  • flavor extract – optional

Tools

  • stand mixer or hand mixer with whisk attachment
  • piping bag
  • piping tips, round or star shaped
  • piping bag coupler
  • spatula
  • 2 baking pans lined with tinfoil
  • 5 small bowls

Steps:

1. Separate the egg whites. I like to use three bowls to separate the eggs. One to keep the egg whites, one for the yolks, and one to separate in. I advise to use this method so that if the yolk breaks it’s only one egg that you are discarding instead of all of the egg whites. Make sure there is absolutely no egg yolk in the egg whites. Any amount of yolk will make it impossible to properly whip the whites.

2. Preheat oven to 225oF.

3. Make sure that your whisk and bowl are completely clean and dry. Add egg whites and start whisking on medium speed. Once it looks bubbly all the way through, add the salt. This is also when you would add the cream of tartar if you have it. Continue whisking on high until the egg whites turn white and have approximately doubled in size.

4. At this point, lower the mixer to medium speed and very slowly add in the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time. This will ensure that the sugar does not deflate any of the meringue. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop whisking and very quickly scrape down the side of the bowl to ensure that all of the sugar will be incorporated.

5. Continue whisking on high until stiff peaks are formed. It is very important to get stiff peaks. If you don’t, the meringue will not bake properly and will be unable to hold its shape.

This is what stiff peaks should look like. If the tip doesn’t stand on its own, it’s too soft.

6. Once you have reached stiff peaks, turn off the mixer and add flavoring extract and food coloring to your liking then whisk on high for 10-15 seconds to ensure everything is combined.

7. Turn off mixer and remove bowl if using a stand mixer. You will want to work very quickly to ensure that the egg whites do not deflate too much.

8. Using a spatula, put the meringue into the piping bag with tip already attached. Here, you can optionally add a little extra food coloring to create a marbled look in the meringues.

9. Pipe the meringue onto the baking sheets in whatever size and shape you like. I advise that you make them on the smaller side to ensure easy removal without breaking when out of the oven. Add sprinkles here if you’d like.

10. Place into oven and bake for 1 hour. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.

11. Once an hour has passed, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in to dry for another hour at minimum. The longer the better. AGAIN, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. If you do, hot air in the oven will escape and the meringues will not dry properly.

12. After at least two hours since initially putting the meringues in the oven, remove and let cool until room temperature, then remove from foil and enjoy.

13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for about two to three weeks depending on humidity.

Photos provided by Eliot Gentiluomo / the Watchdog.

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