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Five tips for perfect meringues

five tips for perfect meringue

Five tips for perfect meringues

Yes I know I'm a little bit in my meringue period but it's so magical, easy to do, perfect for desserts… two years ago, I published an article on how to make homemade meringues, the so-called French ones.

Today, following my even richer experience (and my failures), my reading but especially many of your questions on this subject, I wanted to take up the theme differently and give you the five tips for making perfect meringues (almost without anything do), mistakes not to make (eg salt). As a bonus, you also have storage tips and possible variations ... so that you always have meringues in stock to improvise a quick dessert. And perfect for recycling egg whites.

I've looked at everything a bit, but know that it's actually even easier (you end up having reflexes) even if you've never done it before! You don't have to do much (ah electric whips, what a great invention!) And just have two ingredients on hand. On the other hand, you should not be in a hurry because the meringue requires softness. It's a gentle preparation.


A. Separate the whites from the yolks

The only thing that meringue really dislikes is the fat ;-). This is why it is important to separate the whites from the yolks perfectly. If there are traces of the latter in the white (so traces of fat) it will never rise properly to obtain a meringue.

B. Container

It is imperative to use a bowl or the bowl of a perfectly clean food processor, without any trace of fat.

The best solution is a stainless steel container (no tin which will color on the meringue). Plastic is not recommended because it tends to "retain" traces of fat.

C. No salt!

Contrary to what is often indicated (a little by reflex because everyone says it, a little unverified grandmother's remedy ;-), absolutely no salt is needed! All scientists and even laymen (just give it a try) say it: the salt will bring out the water, destabilize the meringue, which will thus be less homogeneous and will hold less.

The advice was born over a century ago when everything was done by hand, often in cold rooms: in fact, the salt at the beginning gives the illusion that the whites take better (more foam is created). But that’s when it’s going to take its toll.

Afterward, if the quantity is tiny and the quantity of whites is large, it doesn't really change but you don't need to complicate your life (and take risks). Basically, you don't need an extra ingredient.

D. Work at room temperature

If you need to separate the whites from the yolks, do them when the eggs are cold, it's much easier.

On the other hand, use the egg whites at room temperature (up to around 95 ° F) they rise much better. Usually, I take them out, do something else, and then take care of the meringues when they are lukewarm.

If the whites are frozen, thaw them overnight in the fridge, then take them out for 20 to 30 minutes before whipping them.


A.  The proportions are very, very simple to remember: you need double the sugar compared to the weight of the egg whites (this is why it is very important to weigh the eggs, but this generally applies in baking).

Eg. 100 g of egg white and 200 g of caster sugar.

Here, the proportions are the ideal ones to obtain a very stable and crispy meringue, with zero risks, even when baking.

Knowing that meringue is sweet by definition, there's no escaping it ... and that makes its unique charm.

B. Can we decrease?

Depending on the use and the desired texture, you can reduce the sugar a little, up to 10 to 20%. No more because otherwise there will be too much water in proportion, they will have difficulty drying and will not be crispy.

This means, for example, that for 100 g of egg whites, 160 to 180 g of sugar can be used.

The less sugar there is, the less the meringue will be structured and crisp, it will be more fragile and tender. I use it more for light desserts, a bit like a plate, made at the last moment.

If, on the other hand, I want a more solid meringue, firm as for a pavlova, a vacherin, or a wonderful, I would opt for the classic proportions (to within 10-20 g).

C. What sugar?

The classic sugar is caster sugar, knowing all the same that, the finer it is, the more the meringue will take and the white will easily absorb the sugar.

So, use fine caster sugar or mix it before use to reduce it to a subtle powder.

We can also mix (Ido it very often) classic sugar and icing sugar, the latter is added last because it melts more quickly.

For a smoother meringue that is even easier to work with, use only icing sugar. The result will be perfect!

For other sugars, you can replace the caster sugar with light cane sugar and the meringues will be slightly more colorful.

On the other hand (already tested), I do not recommend all whole cane sugars (like muscovado, panela ... or even palm sugar, which I like a lot but in other preparations) because the meringue will be a little less crispy, not white at all (but we know that) but above all, it will have a little unpleasant aftertaste I find. At least that's my negative experience.

Finally, do not use coconut blossom sugar (I know it's tempting, the appearance is similar) because the substance is not the same (and the chemical effects too): it is not sucrose but fructose. The meringues will not hold up after a short time (the humidity will take over).

Five tips for perfect meringues (precautions, preparation, cooking, conservation). 


A. Whip at the beginning without sugar

Egg white has the particularity of being able to incorporate a lot of air (I am fascinated every time) up to 8 times its volume (unbelievable, isn't it?). And to give stability to this phenomenon, sugar comes into play.

However, all the charm of the meringue lies in its light, airy, crispy side. This is why it is important to allow the white to incorporate only air first. Otherwise, the meringue will be too dense.

So I recommend that you start whisking at medium speed (without anything else, eh!) Until the whites increase by about a third in volume, before adding a little sugar.

B. Gradually add the sugar

The other secret related to the first is to gradually incorporate the sugar. The more you do this in small amounts, the better the sugar will be absorbed by the white, which at the same time will incorporate air.

I recommend that you start with one teaspoon at a time and wait until it has melted into the white before adding the next one. Then you can increase the quantity because the meringue will be more stable. On average, incorporate the sugar in 5 times.

In any case, I always give you all the elements in the meringue recipes.

The whites should become very supple, almost firm, shiny, and form a peak on the whisk.

C.  Last gesture and formation of meringues

Depending on the recipe, sometimes the remaining sugar is added as icing sugar at the last moment (it melts very quickly) using a spatula.

In any case, what is important is to handle delicately the egg whites are well whipped with the sugar (since there is air in them).

You can form meringues with a simple spoon, an ice cream scoop, a pastry bag with or without a smooth nozzle ... Or even thinly spread it on a baking sheet if you want some sort of tile. Meringue lends itself to all shapes.


A. Plate

Place the meringue on a baking sheet covered with baking paper attached to the base with a little meringue to prevent the paper from moving.
You can also use a perforated plate, it will cook even better. Very useful especially if the meringue is large.

B. Time and temperature

The highlight of the success (apart from what I said before) is of course also the cooking!

As always, the time and temperature depend on the one hand on the dimensions and in particular on the thickness of the meringue (but it's intuitive) and, on the other hand, on your more or less precise, efficient oven ... reassure, I do not have a great oven and it works very well).

As for the temperature, for the meringue to dry well and crisp you need at least a temperature of 185 ° F and it can go up to 230-248 ° F. Knowing in the latter case, that the real temperature must be around 212 ° F (and not 248 ° F otherwise the sugar will overcook and the meringues will be colored and too hard, not tender).

Personally, I cook between 194 ° F and 230 ° -248 ° F, I start with this last temperature and I lower it after 30 minutes.

I recommend that you use the hot air (the meringues dry better) and open after 50 minutes or even 1 hour to bring out the humidity.

If you don't want to take any risks, bake at 194 ° -212° F maximum (depending on whether your oven heats more or less) so you will be sure that the meringue will cook without too much color.

In terms of times, the smaller (individual) the meringues the shorter. Depending on the temperature, count at least 1 hour to 1:30 and 2 to 3 hours for large meringues.

In any case, you have all the details in the specific recipes.

C. When are the meringues cooked?

Meringues are cooked when a nice shiny crust has formed on top, they pull off easily from the baking sheet and are light. In case of doubt (especially at heart) extend the gentle cooking a little longer.

The large, thick meringues will always be a little less cooked (even chewy) to the core.

large meringue

d. Rest

Always put the odds on our side (after you will see, you will do it automatically without even thinking about it), dry the meringues again in the oven off from 1 hour to overnight.


A. The acid!

If meringue doesn't like salt or fat, it likes acidity (again the chemistry!). Indeed you can help the assembly of the whites with a little lemon juice (1 teaspoon for 100 g of whites) of the tart cream (a tip of a knife for 100 g of whites) or white vinegar (again. 1 tsp).

This is a bonus that is useful especially if you have to make big meringues or you have a lot of egg whites to whip up.

B. Starch

Here too, starch (such as corn starch such as cornstarch) helps stabilize the meringues because it absorbs a little water. I use it especially when I prepare pavlova, in the measure of 1 level teaspoon for 120 g of egg whites.

C.The freshness

As much better to use whites that have been separated from the yolks for one or two days, so much better not to use too old eggs: they rise less well.

Ideally, the eggs should be one to two weeks old.

D. Good weather

And yes, when it rains, it is very humid and cold, it does not work as well (especially when it is very humid) because the meringues also absorb ambient humidity.

So if you have a nice dry and sunny day, this is the ideal place to start (well, you will tell me that in this case, you prefer to go for a walk in the park ... I understand perfectly


A. How to store meringues

Good news: meringues keep very well. After a day or two, it is even better because they will have dried again.

Meringues can be stored in an airtight box or cardboard box (best) and at room temperature for 5 to 7 days, or even longer, quietly.

It is very important to put them in a dry place (no fridge!). They will wait for you wisely.

B- Flavor the meringues

Meringues can of course be colored (better with quality powdered coloring) and especially flavored: with citrus zest, coffee, cocoa, spices such as vanilla or cinnamon. I advise you to add them last.

We can also add a liquid element such as strawberry juice, lemon juice but, in the same line of the discourse 'decrease in the amount of sugar', it is better not to exceed 10 to 20% of the weight (at the risk of missing them. and fail to dry them).

If you add juice, they will contain more water, need more cooking, and will be less stable. In general, they are more tender but less firm/crisp




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