Let’s make beautiful, billowy meringues! Few treats are more charming or versatile. The first order of business is deciding which method to use – there are a number of options. More often than not, I go the Swiss meringue route, which I’ll explain below. A lot of people like to use the French method – where you whisk eggs until they are nice and frothy, adding granulated sugar, a bit at a time. I wouldn’t disagree that it’s the simplest method, but I like the Swiss meringue approach instead, for a number of reasons.
Swiss Meringue Technique
To make Swiss meringue, you basically combine all your ingredients in a mixing bowl. Heat it over a pan of simmering water until smooth, and then pop that mixing bowl back into your mixer. Whisk until you have a beautiful, bright, glossy meringue. It’s quite straight-forward. I think cooking sugar always freaks people out, and to do it right, you should use a thermometer, but don’t let that deter you.
Why Swiss Meringue?
Reason number one, you don’t have to remember to bring your eggs to room temperature. This is major. I always forget to pull my eggs from the refrigerator. You don’t have to worry about this if you’re using the Swiss approach. The second thing, I like to be able to pipe my meringue into somewhat intricate shapes (see photos). I have much better luck with Swiss meringue. It’s stiffer, and holds ridges, dollops, and flourishes better. If you’re trying to avoid blobby meringue, start here.
Keys to Success
1) Use a completely clean, dry bowl, whisk, spatula, etc. to get the most volume of meringue. Any residual oils will hamper your efforts.
2) Adjust your baking time based on whether you’re like a chewier or crisper meringue. Leave them to bake longer for crisper. Up to a few hours even!
3) If you do leave your meringues to bake longer, just be sure they aren’t taking on any/too much color. Ways to counter coloring: gently rotate pans, propping over door open with a wooden spoon, moving baking sheets either up or down in oven.
4) To maintain a glossy sheen and texture, try not to slam your oven door or baking sheet while baking. They might collapse a bit and end up with a crackled texture.
The recipe below is a nice base recipe. Once you get the hang of it play around with different add-ins. I love to stir in cacao nibs, toasted coconut flakes, saffron bloomed in the almond extract, dried rose petals + rose extract, lots of mixed sesame seeds, or toasted pistachios.