Used for making cakes, garnishing sweets or simply eating as is, the meringue is one of the classic sweets of Italian pastry-making (and more) that satisfies even the most demanding palates…

The secrets for a good meringue

Meringue is a mass obtained by mounting (hot or cold) egg whites (albumin) with sugar (granulated, cane or icing) and other complementary ingredients called for by the various recipes.
It is used, when creamy, to make other creams (with butter, Saint Honoré, etc.), nougats and parfaits (semifreddi) and sweets to be eaten with a spoon, generally speaking. When baked in the oven, it is used to make pies or cakes with meringue (vacherin), to garnish sweets in general, to be filled with creams, or simply for eating as is.
The secret to making a good meringue is the eggs: you have to use egg whites without impurities (i.e., no traces of egg yolk, butter, oil, etc.) which, because of their fat content, would prevent the mass from being successfully mounted. You can use either very fresh, just cracked, egg whites, or those a few days old, or even pasteurized egg whites that you will easily find sold in brick cartons.

The four main variants

There are at least four kinds of meringue, which have different characteristics and uses but which melt in the mouth all leaving the same delicious flavor. Let’s take a look at them:

The Italian meringue, which you can use to make mousse and semifreddi with a white base, i.e., sweets that need a neutral base, both in color and taste (for example, semifreddi and mousse with yoghurt, fruit, hazelnuts, almonds and white chocolate).

Ingredients for 1 kg of mass
Granulated sugar    750 g
10 egg whites    400 g
Water    150 g

Boil 600 g of sugar and water in a deep semi-spherical pot at 115 °C. Pour the semi-dense syrup onto the egg whites, previously mixed with the remaining 150 grams of sugar, in a planetary mixer. Mount at maximum speed until the mass has cooled. The mixture must be soft and puffy.

The Swiss meringue: because of its special preparation method, where the pasteurization temperature of the eggs is not reached, it is preferable to use pasteurized egg whites in brick cartons. Today you can easily find them on the market.

Ingredients for 1 kg of mass
Granulated sugar    1000 g
12 egg whites    500 g
Lemon juice    2 g

In a bowl, blend the egg whites with the sugar and begin to mount in the bain marie until they reach 45 °C. Pour the warm mass into the planetary mixer and mount until cooled at maximum speed. When the mass is almost mounted, incorporate a few drops of lemon juice. Use as needed, especially for preparing mousse and decorating cakes.

The French meringue, which can be used to prepare bases for meringue pies or classic meringues of various shapes and sizes to eat as they are.

Ingredients for 1 kg of mass
Icing sugar    1000 g
12 egg whites    500 g
Cream of tartar    10 g

Mount the egg whites, cream of tartar and half of the sugar. When the mass is almost mounted, incorporate the remaining sugar a little at a time. Fill a pastry bag and form the meringues on a sheet lined with silicon or oven paper. Cook in the oven at 100 °C with flue open until they are dry (approximately 2-4 hours depending on the size of the meringue).
If you want a fine and delicate meringue it is best to use icing sugar (which can also be made by blending the granulated sugar). If you prefer a more granular meringue, classic granulated sugar works well.

Meringue or Japanese mass, to which dried fruit flour is added, requires a shorter cooking time and a higher oven temperature.

Ingredients for 1 kg of mass
Icing sugar    320 g
8 egg whites    320 g
Almond flour    320 g

Mount the egg whites with three quarters of the amount of sugar. When the mass is almost mounted, gradually incorporate the remaining mixture of almond flour and sugar. Fill a pastry bag and form the meringues on a sheet lined with silicon or oven paper. Cook in oven at 110 °C with open flue, for about 1 hour, until they are dry (time depends on the size of the meringue).
These meringues can be enjoyed as they are, or filled with ganache or creams, or they can also be used as meringue pie bases. Instead of almonds you can use any other kind of dried fruit. You can also blend the fruit at home and decide to use a finer or coarser grain according to your taste and the result you want to achieve.


How Much Do You Know…?

Which of these sweets DOES NOT call for the use of meringue?

Try to make meringue baci (kisses): join two meringues together using a center filling of whipped cream or chocolate (and why not Nutella?). Success is guaranteed!