Simple French Meringues

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Nothing in this world can replace that crisp, melt-in-your-mouth taste that meringues produce. Nothing. In the process of making this post, I have gobbled up an entire batch of these heavenly cookies. The irony of it all is that up until a few years ago, I had no idea what a meringue was! It was only after my flabbergasted friend brought me some that I realized how much I’ve been missing out on this gastronomical wonder. Meringues (pronounced mer-ANGS) are a sweet dessert composed of two main elements: egg whites and sugar. Their exterior is crisp while the interior is soft and chewy. While meringues are quite simple to make, there are a few things to keep in mind.

When whipping egg whites, room temperature eggs are best for optimal volume. Make sure you’re whipping the whites in a spotless, grease-free bowl (metal and glass work well, but avoid plastic). The fat interferes with the delicate structure between the egg whites and sugar. It also pays to add the sugar slowly in small amounts. Doing so will keep the air bubbles that you worked so hard to make intact and also ensures that the sugar is dissolved properly. Many recipes use an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or cream of tartar to stabilize the eggs. You are free to do so as well in this recipe, but I have found that the meringues turn out just fine without it.

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you have trouble keeping the paper flat like me, use magnets to keep those suckers down.)

2. Separate the egg whites from the yolk and put them in a clean, large bowl with the cream of tartar (optional). Let the egg whites sit until room temperature, about 15 minutes.

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3. Whisk the egg whites at high speed using a hand beater or stand mixer (or a whisk for those willing to stand the test of endurance) until foamy peaks form when you lift up the whisk.

4. At this point you can slowly add in one third of the sugar. Continue whisking and gradually add in the rest.

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5. Keep whipping the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. To determine if your eggs are at this stage, lift up the whisk from the batter. If the batter droops down, you’re still at the soft peak stage. Continue whisking for a couple more minutes. If the batter maintains stiff peaks, pat yourself on the back because you’re ready for the next step.

6. Add in the vanilla extract and mix.

7. Using a spatula, scrape the meringue batter into a prepared piping bag.

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8. Now pipe the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. You can do all sorts of shapes, as long as they’re the same size. As for me, I made little rosettes using a star tip.image16

9. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. You can tell when the meringues are done when they come off the paper easily. When storing these, make sure it’s in an airtight container so that the meringues don’t soften. Enjoy!

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