The question How to make Meringue is one that pops up quite frequently. Only the other day I got a phone call, this old lady rung me to say that she had some egg white and didn’t know what to do with it.
Meringue mixture is one of the simplest cookie recipes but then again coming from someone who makes them often that easy to say!
The main point is exactly that, when you make something often you get to learn about the mixtures and see that even the slightest difference can change the outcome of your results.
Here, I have put together some useful tips and observations on how to make meringue... that I have noted through the years of experimenting with this cookie recipe.
Apply these tips to my meringue recipe and you’ll be well on your way to great meringue cookies...
When you are separating your egg whites be extra careful that no yolk falls into the bowl with the whites. Even the smallest amount of egg yolk will prevent your meringue to whisk up to its perfect potential.
A important thing to mention is that the bowl and whisk must be clean and dry. Grease and even a drop of liquid will affect how the egg whites whisk up.
Now I know that a poor workman always blames his tools, but trust me, the type of whisk you use with a meringue recipe does make a difference.
The four types of whisks I have used are;
A hand whisk can be very hard work in indeed. I remember when I use to make them with my mum we would always take it in turns to whisk.
The Swiss meringue recipe calls for using a hand and even the smallest amount of egg white can take about 20 minutes to whisk, so if there are two of you all the better.
I find it takes forever to whisk up the egg whites and sugar with an electric hand whisk.
If you are using a hand whisk , I recommend you use a narrower and taller bowl so that the whisk heads are well covered with the meringue mixture.
This helps to beat the mixture faster with better results.
In my opinion a hand whisk is not the ideal whisk to use with a meringue recipe. I find that the meringue mixture doesn’t reach that perfect stiffness needed, in order to hold its shape. The mixture should be that stiff that the whisks stand up on their own in the bowl.
What’s the worst case scenario?
How does this affect the meringue cookies?
By stand mixer I mean those types of mixer’s that are similar to the Kenwood Chef.
I have used one of these for years in my bakery for the smaller quantities.
This mixer is definitely better than the hand whisk. Although the results of your meringue recipe will be better not only in appearance but also in texture.
Through my experience of using this meringue recipe hundreds of times even this whisk doesn’t reach that perfect stiffness needed.
Now this is the whisk to use if you are looking for a perfect meringue!
With the amount of ingredients I have indicated above it took precisely 10 minutes and the meringue mixture was as stiff as a board… well almost!
Now I appreciate the fact that not everyone has one of these mixer’s and just because you haven’t doesn’t mean you should not give it a go.
My sister-in-law absolutely adores these cookies and uses my meringue cookie recipe all the time with a hand whisk.
Meringue cookies are not really baked but go through a drying out process.
Having said that the Japanese Meringue recipe calls for the oven to be quite high and baking time is a whole lot shorter.
" How to make meringue cookies so that they stay white?".
Needs careful attention to the oven temperature
And frequent checking as not to over baked them
So, what is the right oven temperature?
I can only really give you guide lines here as all ovens are different.
For a meringue cookie to keep its shape, the outer shell needs to form a crust pretty quickly. So the oven starts off at a higher temperature, as soon as a solid crust has formed the oven temperature is dropped.
Assuming you are using an electric home size oven, I recommend you pre-heat the oven to 70°C - 80°C . (if you have a gas oven I‘m afraid I can’t help you as I have never used a gas oven)
N.B. The oven must be ready!
After you pop your meringue cookies in the oven, it should take a rough 10-15 minutes to form the crust.
No crust yet? Leave them for a few more minutes.
As soon as the meringue forms a hard shell turn the oven temperature down to 40°C. Leave for another hour and them switch of your oven and leave to meringue cookies to dry out.
“ How to make meringue cookies so that have a soft chewy center?”
Here you need to bake the meringue a little faster, this causes the cookies to brown slightly but it forms a hard shell and soft center.
Pop your cookies in the oven at 100°C, leave for 15 minutes and switch the oven off. Leave to dry, after an hour check to see if the cookies shell is dry, if so remove from oven not leave a little bit longer.
If you would like to change the flavor of even may be the color of your meringue cookies important things to remember are:
1, It is always best to add powdered flavoring (ex. instant coffee powder) and powdered food colors and always after the egg whites and sugar are stiff.
Liquid is really a no no with a meringue recipe.
2, If you are adding chopped nuts to the meringue recipe, it is always best to do so only when the eggs and sugar are really stiff and then fold them in... not whisk!.
Here are a few more pages related to how to make meringue that may interest you.