Apr 28, 2009

Baking Meringues on a Tuesday Afternoon

Today, I baked several batches of meringues (to be used for one-bite sweet canapés…).The first batch was unsuccessful. The texture was grainy and didn’t bake well since the meringue never dried and stayed spongy and elastic…
[Aug., 7, 2009 : in fact, I later discovered that the grainy texture was due to the fact that my cooked sugar was too hot when poured in the mixing bowl]
Several improvements/adjustments made the following batches more successful, not knowing which one had the biggest positive effect on the final result…
  • Limiting the number of egg whites at 8 in the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl,
  • Adding 50 gr to the 250 gr sugar listed in my recipe
  • Slowly pouring the cooked sugar syrup when the whites are at the soft-peak stage
On that last point, this is quite tricky to synchronize the soft-peak stage for the whites and the soft-ball stage for the sugar…
The third point makes it much easier to succeed in achieving the shiny creamy soft texture (should look like matt white paint).

Here is the recipe I used

Meringue Italienne

  • 4 egg whites
  • 250 gr sugar (I added 50 gr sugar, see point 2) (the more sugar added, the longer the meringue will need to be beaten)
  • Mix sugar and 1/3 of its weight of water
  • Cook the syrup to the soft-ball stage (116°C. / 240°F.)
  • Meanwhile, beat the whites (+ pinch of sugar) to the soft-peak stage
  • Slowly pour the cooked sugar syrup into the beaten whites
  • Beat until it has cooled and reached the stiff-peak stage
  • “Sear” the meringue (beat at high speed for a few seconds, will stabilize the structure of it)
  • Pipe on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper
  • Bake for a couple of hours in a 200°F./ 95°C. oven (until harden)
  • Store in a airtight container (freeze is an option)
A few words of History (source : FCI cooking handbook, level 2)

“According to Larousse Gastronomique, meringue may have been invented by the Swiss pastry cook Galasparini, who practiced his art at the small town of Meiringen in Germany. Queen Marie Antoinette had a great liking for meringues, particularly vacherins. Until the early nineteenth century, meringues baked in the oven were shaped with a spoon; it was Carême who first had the idea of using a pastry bag.”

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