How to make French meringue?
Very easy to make, the so-called “French” meringue is the one we love for its crunchy exterior and soft interior. It is made by whisking a certain quantity of egg whites with double the sugar (eg: 100 g of egg whites and 200 g of icing sugar).
To prepare French meringues, start beating your egg whites in a bowl at medium speed.
When they start to foam, add a third of the sugar, while continuing to beat. When the sugar is well mixed, add the second third. Wait until it is completely incorporated, then add the remaining sugar.
From this point on, increase the speed of the mixer. Your meringue is ready when you obtain the famous “bird’s beak”, this means that the whites form a point in the shape of a beak, at the end of your whisk. Turn your container upside down, the egg whites must not fall out.
You can then choose to pipe your meringues with a piping bag, for a uniform result, or with a tablespoon. If you choose the first option, insert your tip into the pastry bag. Using a knife, cut the pocket at the level of the socket.
Place it on a tall container (graduated glass type). Fill it with meringue then pipe your meringues onto a silicone baking mat, placed on a baking tray. Let your creativity speak by creating the shapes you want.
Bake them at 80°C for 3 hours for very white meringues, or at 100°C for 1.5 to 2 hours for off-white meringues.
Finally, if you want golden meringues, with a good caramelized taste, dry them at 120°C between 2 and 2:30 a.m. This is the Botterens method, developed by Angélo Rime, a Swiss pastry chef. , nicknamed “the Pope of meringue”.
Cooking time varies depending on the size of the meringues and the desired consistency. If you prefer meringues that are still soft at the core, it is better not to overcook them. So remember to check on them from time to time, without opening the oven.
Discover the recipe for Marbled Chocolate Meringues
© Valéry Guedes
With its crunchy-soft texture, French meringue can be enjoyed alone. In this case, you can choose to flavor it with lemon zest, spices, chocolate, etc. French meringue is also used in the composition of certain pastries such as Mont-blanc, marvelous or pavlova. In these recipes, cornstarch and lemon juice are used to obtain a firmer meringue.
How to make Italian meringue?
The particularity of Italian meringue is that sugar syrup is incorporated into the egg whites. Unlike the French and Swiss version, it is not “dried” in the oven, but used as is. It thus maintains a foamy and light texture.
In terms of proportions, count around a third of water and half of egg whites, in relation to the quantity of sugar (eg: 70 g of water, 100 g of whites and 200 g of sugar).
Before starting the recipe, make sure you have a food probe at your disposal.
Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan. Heat over low heat until it reaches 120°C.
Meanwhile, whip your egg whites at medium speed.
When the syrup is ready, lower the speed, then add the syrup in a drizzle. Whisk at maximum speed until the mixture has completely cooled.
Check that the meringue forms the bird’s beak on your whisk. It should have a nice smooth and shiny appearance.
Your meringue is ready to use.
Discover the recipe for lemon tart with Italian meringue
© Jérôme Bilic
Generally, Italian meringue is used to cover cakes or mask them. You can find it on a lemon meringue pie or a Norwegian omelette. In the latter, it plays the role of insulation between the torch and the ice, during buckling.
Italian meringue is also incorporated into other preparations, such as creams, marshmallows or macaroons. If the three types of meringues can be used to make these, we prefer Italian meringue, which makes the appearance of the shells smoother.
How to make Swiss meringue?
French and Swiss meringue are identical in ingredients and proportions, but their execution differs. Indeed, Swiss meringue is traditionally whipped in a bain-marie, before being dried. The result will be a little drier, but less crumbly than French meringue.
The large meringues that we find at the baker’s are actually Swiss meringues.
The thermo-probe will once again be essential.
Heat water in a saucepan. Place a salad bowl on top.
Whisk the eggs in the salad bowl. When they start to rise, add the sugar gradually, while continuing to beat. Remove the bowl from the pan when the mixture reaches 55°C.
Continue to whisk at full speed, then gradually reduce it, until the meringue has cooled.
Pipe your meringues with a piping bag, or with a spoon, on a silicone baking mat.
Bake them at 100°C for 30 minutes for small meringues, 45 to 50 minutes for large ones.
Dry and crunchy, Swiss meringues are mostly used to decorate Christmas logs and birthday cakes. You can form them according to your inspiration, into fir trees, ghosts, mushrooms…
We will also favor Swiss meringue if we want to make large formats.
Our tips for successful meringues
- Whether for financiers, sponge cakes, or meringues, it is preferable that your egg whites are a few days old. In fact, “aged” whites rise better than if you have just broken them. So, don’t panic if you’ve had your whites in the fridge for a few days, they will be cooked anyway. However, remember to take them out of the refrigerator a few hours before the recipe, so that they are at room temperature.
Please note, this advice is only valid for recipes that will cook. Don’t have fun doing the same thing for a tiramisu, you risk poisoning.
Last point, use organic or free-range eggs, if possible, which are of better quality than those in other categories.
- We recommend using icing sugar for French and Swiss meringues. It blends better with whites than caster sugar, which risks producing a less homogeneous result. A mixture of equal parts caster sugar and icing sugar can also work. On the other hand, the Italian version requires caster sugar.
- For less sweet meringues, it is possible to reduce the quantity of sugar. Then weigh one so much for so many egg whites and sugar.
- You can add a pinch of salt and/or 1 tbsp. teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar, to help the egg whites hold together.
- Place your meringues on a silicone mat and not on parchment paper. The meringues may stick to it when cooking, which could damage them when they peel off.
- Store your Swiss meringues in an airtight container, dry. They can last for several weeks without problem. French meringues can be stored in the same way, for up to three weeks. Beyond that, they risk softening. On the other hand, Italian meringue must be used immediately, otherwise it will fall.
You’ve become an expert on meringues.