Meringue, also known as “forgotten cookies” due to the fact that it is baked at a very low heat for a long time, is a type of dessert associated with French, Swiss and Italian cuisine. It is made from whipped egg whites and sugar as well as some form of acid, such as lemon, vinegar or cream of tartar. A binding agent such as salt, corn starch or gelatine may also be added to the eggs.
French meringue is sometimes referred to as ordinary meringue at it is the most basic and the least stable until baked of all the meringues. Egg whites are beaten until they coagulate and form soft peaks, at which point sugar is slowly incorporated until the mixture has attained full volume; is soft, airy, and light; and stands at attention when the whip is lifted. French meringue is customarily spooned or piped into different forms, including dessert shells (such as vacherins) and cake layers (as in a dacquoise), and baked, later to be topped with fruit, mousse, or whipped cream. It is also often folded into batters (for lady fingers, sponge cakes, soufflés, and the like) and baked.
There are actually three basic techniques for making meringue and they are differentiated by the extent to which the egg white foam is heated and the resulting stability of the meringue. The three styles are known as French, Swiss, and Italian meringues.
Meringue can be used as the basis for various desserts including Baked Alaska, Eton Mess, Floating Islands (aka snow eggs), Pavlova, as a topping for Lemon Meringue Pie, and many more.
Swiss meringue is prepared by gently beating egg whites and sugar in a pan that sits above boiling water, without touching it. When the mixture reaches 50°C and the sugar is completely dissolved, the mixture is pulled off the heat and beaten vigorously to increase and attain full volume and then at a lower speed until cool and very stiff. Swiss meringue is smoother, silkier, and somewhat denser than French meringue and is often used as a base for buttercream frostings.
Italian meringue is made with boiling sugar syrup, instead of caster sugar. This leads to a much more stable soft meringue which can be used in various pastries without collapsing. In an Italian meringue, a hot sugar syrup (115°C) is whipped into softly whipped egg whites till stiff. This type of meringue is safe to use without cooking. It will not deflate for a long while and can be either used on pies and Baked Alaska, or spread on a sheet and baked for meringues.
4 large egg whites
750 ml cups icing sugar
5 ml vanilla extract
Pink Gel Food Coloring
150 ml Nutella
- Preheat oven to 120°C and line baking trays with Wizbake sheets and set it aside.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or use hand mixer and place in a large bowl.
- Beat until light and foamy on low speed. Turn off the mixer and add the vanilla extract.
- Carefully, add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed for 20 minutes. The meringue will get thick.
- Add some pink food gel and fold the gel through to create a marbled effect.
- Spoon the meringue into a silicone piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
- Pipe the meringues in circles starting in the center and swirling outward in a circular motion. Repeat until all meringue is used.
- Turn the oven down to 100 °C and bake the meringues for 10 minutes.
- Switch the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven overnight to dry out or at the lowest setting for 3 to 4 hours until completely dry.
- Remove the meringues from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
- Spread 15 ml Nutella on the flat bottom of one meringue and cover with a 2nd meringue to make a sandwich.
- Transfer to a serving plate or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.