Tips for Mile High Meringue


Country MoonWith fall comes the return of baking season. At my house, dessert in summer months usually consists of fresh fruit because of the abundance. With cooler temperatures, it feels good to heat up the oven and to make old-fashioned desserts.

Cream pies have always been a hit, especially when having company over. However, most cream pies are topped with meringue, a sweet topping that is made by baking a mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar until crisp. This simple sounding treat can be a lot trickier than it sounds.

Sometimes my meringue is high and fluffy like it should be and at other times, well, it leaves a lot to be desired. Even though I make it the same way each time, the results are not always the same. So, I did a little research to see what the deal was on why making meringue is sometimes a tricky chore.

What I found out was that it has to do with a lot of factors. The method of whipping, the utensils, temperature and humidity all play an important part in creating a fluffy mouth-watering meringue. Here is the skinny on how chefs do it:


How you treat your eggs is probably the biggest factor in whether your meringue is successful or not because meringue essentially consists of…eggs or, more precisely, egg whites. Having even the smallest speck of fat in the egg whites will cause them to deflate. The most likely culprit here is a tiny piece of yolk from imperfectly separated eggs. Not wanting to spoil the whole batch, I have quickly dipped out the tiny amount of yolk that fell into the whites when I was separating. Wrong. I should have just tossed the egg whites and started over because it did ruin the meringue in the end anyway.

Cold egg whites are easier to separate but whites warmed to room temperature are loftier when whisked. So, the best practice is to separate the eggs while cold and then allow the whites to stand at room temperature, covered, about 30 minutes before beating them.

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