A meringue is a preparation made out of egg white whipped with sugar, and can be used as a base or an ingredient in several recipes.
There are different types of meringue: the simplest method is the so-call French meringue, where the eggs whites are simply whipped with caster sugar until stiff. This meringue can then be baked to make, for instance, nests.
A good rule when making a meringue is that the weight of the sugar should be twice the weight of the egg whites, or, if you don’t want to weigh the whites, 60 grams of sugar per white is a good approximation
The method I will talk about now is the most complex, but also the one that will give you the most stable, glossy and thick result: the Italian meringue.
This is a cooked meringue and will need a sugar thermometer because it is made with a light caramel that needs to be at 121 C to be added to the egg whites.
It requires a lot of whisking and is a bit of hard work, unless you have a planetary mixer.
White sugar (60 g per egg white, or twice the weight of the whites)
This is the whole process:
- Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan, add just enough water to cover and add the glucose if using
- Attach the thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the syrup to the boil
- Brush the sides of the pan with a silicon brush dipped in water, to prevent the sugar crystals from sticking and then burn
- When the syrup has reached 110 C, start whisking the eggs with an electric mixer or in the planetary, and whisk until stiff peaks form
- When the syrup reaches 121 C, slowly pour it on the whites, whisking on high speed until all the syrup has been incorporated. Be careful that the stream of caramel does not hit the whisk or it might splatter, and caramel gives nasty burns!. You will see that the egg whites grow in volume and become glossy and shiny
- Keep whisking on low speed until the meringue is at room temperature (about 10 minutes)
This meringue is much more stable than an ordinary one and can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to two days; furthermore, as the hot sugar will cook the egg whites, it can be safely eaten without further cooking.