While it may seem daunting, a basic meringue is nothing more than a mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar. It’s a must-have topping for many a desserts - everything from a classic lemon meringue pie to a heavenly baked alaska - and if you follow these few simple steps you’ll be a master meringue maker in no time.
Things You'll Need
- A glass or metal mixing bowl
- Electric mixer
- 3 egg whites - room temperature
- 1/4 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
To prepare a basic meringue, separate the egg whites and place in a glass or metal bowl (plastic bowls can have a greasy film that prevents foaming). Try to separate the eggs without leaving any trace of yolk in the whites as the fat in the yolk can prevent the whites from developing the volume you want.
Step 2Add the lemon juice and using an egg beater, beat the egg whites until frothy. They should form what’s called soft peaks. Peaks are the "hills" that pull up when removing the beaters from the foam. You’ll know your peaks are soft when the tips gently fall over.
Step 3Gradually add the sugar, 1-2 tbsp at a time until it is all incorporated and the peaks become glossy. Continue beating until the foam forms stiff peaks and all of the sugar has been dissolved. To test if the sugar has dissolved, rub the beaten meringue between your thumb and forefinger. If it feels gritty beat the eggs a few more seconds until smooth.
Step 4Pile your meringue onto your warm dessert and bake at 425˚ F (218°C) for about 4 or 5 minutes - just enough to gently brown the peaks.
For a hard meringues, such as these toffee kisses, you’ll need to double the recipe above, and add a ¼ tsp cream of tartar before you add the sugar. Beat the egg whites as above until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in 1 tsp of vanilla.
Preheat your oven to 275˚ F (135°C). Pipe or dollop the egg whites onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake until firm - about 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks before serving.
Store cooled meringues in an airtight container for 1 week or wrap well and freeze up to 1 month.