Meringues, those ethereal and beautiful puffs, are easy to make. They are a great choice for those on a low-fat diet, because, well, they contain no fat. Of course, you can certainly add fat in the form of whipped cream or a cookie base. But the meringues themselves are fat-free. There are just a few rules to follow; after that, let your imagination run wild.
Time Required: 30 Minutes
- Gather your equipment. You'll need an absolutely clean bowl, a stand or hand mixer, egg whites, sugar, and an oven. If there is the tiniest bit of egg yolk or fat on your equipment, the whites will not beat to a foamy froth.
- Separate the eggs while they are cold. Cold eggs are easier to separate because the white is thicker. To separate, gently crack the egg and, holding it vertically, pull the two halves apart. Rock the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell, letting the whites drop into a SMALL bowl.
- Put the egg yolk in another bowl, and add the egg white to the large mixing bowl. Repeat this procedure. This is done so if some of the yolk does get into one of the egg whites, you don't ruin the whole batch. If the yolk breaks, put that egg aside and start again.
- Let the egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. The egg whites will beat to a higher and fluffier foam if they aren't cold.
- Now that you have the requisite number of egg whites in the bowl (save the yolks for something else, like making scrambled eggs with the addition of a few whole eggs), start beating. Start at a low speed until the egg whites are foamy.
- Gradually increase the speed of the mixer. When the egg whites start to look lighter in color, add the sugar gradually, beating constantly.
- Keep going!
- When all the sugar has been added, feel a bit of the meringue between your fingers. It should feel smooth and not gritty. If you still feel some grains of sugar, keep beating until the meringue is smooth. With this much sugar, it's difficult to overbeat the egg whites.
- The meringue should be glossy and smooth, and hold stiff peaks when you lift the beater. This means that the peaks will not droop at the tips, but stand straight up.
- Place the meringue on the pie, drop onto parchment paper or a Silpat sheet, or form into a disc or shell. Bake at the required temperature. And don't forget to cool as the recipe states. Some meringues must cool in the oven, with the door ajar, so they cool slowly and don't crack or split.
- Be absolutely sure there are no bits of egg yolk or any fat in the egg whites. To make sure the bowl is grease-free, you can rub it with the cut half of a lemon.
- An acid, like cream of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar, will help ensure that the egg white foam is stable. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of one of these ingredients for every 4 egg whites.
- Beat until the sugar dissolves. This will make the fluffiest and most tender meringue.
- Don't try to make meringues on a humid day, unless you have an air-conditioned house.
- Give yourself time and don't get distracted. Once you start beating the egg whites, you can't stop or they may deflate.
What You Need
- Egg whites
- Clean bowl
- Cream of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar
- Parchment paper