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The 101 on making meringue

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Meringue is a light, airy and sweet treat that few can resist. Although made from just egg whites and sugar, there is so much more to this sweet confection. Understanding the difference between French, Swiss, and Italian meringues, and knowing when to use them can result in  numerous classic recipes, including soufflé, mousse, and airy cakes.

 

Basic Meringue

By Rebecca Siegel
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The basic meringue can have different consistencies and uses depending on the dessert.

 

The basic meringue uses egg whites. When whipped, the protein in the whites creates a fluffy, airy consistency. Using hand mixers like the Electrolux ESTM5600R ergonomic mixer with its turbo setting can help to easily create professional-level results.

Sugar helps to create a more solid meringue. Depending on the temperature and structure of the sugar and egg whites, the meringue will have a different consistency that can be used for different recipes.

Make sure the whites are spotless. Any trace of fat from the yolk or dirt in the bowl will interfere with foaming. Use whites at room temperature for a much fluffier meringue.

When adding sugar, wait until the whites have begun to froth, then slowly rain in the sugar. Make sure the sugar doesn’t clump into the whites; this will break down the protein structure of the meringue.

 

French Meringue

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French Meringues are often used to top off pies, and then baked together.

The most common approach is the French meringue, a straightforward sugar and whites mixture. The common ratio for a French meringue is one part egg white to two parts sugar.

This meringue is perfect for use in cooked recipes; it is usually the meringue used in soufflés, to lighten cake batters, or to top off pies which are then baked.

 

Swiss Meringue

By tippi t
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Swiss meringue is often dried out in an oven to make crispy pavlovas or garnishes on desserts.

This is prepared by whisking an egg white-sugar mixture over a warm water bath until the sugar has completely dissolved and is warm to the touch. The meringue is then whipped until glossy, stiff peaks are formed.  The mixture is then set aside and cooled.

A Swiss meringue is the go-to for making buttercreams and is often piped and dried out in a warm oven to create Pavlovas or crisp garnishes.

 

Italian Meringue

By Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin
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Italian meringue is often used to add sturdiness to mousse or top off desserts like Baked Alaska, which are then finished in the oven, frozen or torched.

The Italian version is created by heating a sugar syrup to about 115oC. After the egg whites have been whipped to soft peaks, the syrup is added and the mixture is quickly whipped into a shiny, firm meringue.

Italian meringue is used to add sturdiness to mousse and is also great for desserts like Baked Alaska. It can be used with recipes that are finished in the oven, frozen, or torched.

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