There are few transformations in cooking as miraculous as turning an egg right into a meringue.
With just some sugar, air and a small quantity of effort, a bowl of modest egg whites can develop into extravagantly shiny and puffed, prepared to decorate up all method of swoopy, fancy confections — festooned on desserts, piped into pavlovas and kisses, or swirled onto pies.
Whereas it might appear tough, making meringue is a complete lot simpler than you may assume. Any residence cook dinner with a set of electrical beaters — or a balloon whisk and perseverance — can whip one up in a matter of minutes. It’s nicely definitely worth the work, whether or not you’re trying to impress your family and friends, your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day or your self any time you crave one thing candy.
As a result of whereas perfecting one thing as particular as meringue is a thrill, the true enchantment occurs while you eat it.
Meringue at its most minimal consists merely of sugared, overwhelmed eggs whites. Generally it’s heated, typically not, and recipes date again to no less than the sixteenth century. Earlier than electrical mixers, making meringue was an endurance check, a showy show of a pastry cook dinner’s ability and upper-arm energy. Till the wire whisk was popularized within the nineteenth century, this vigorous mixing was completed with birch branches, knives or bundles of straw. Simply consider that the subsequent time pulling out your mixer appears daunting.
In actuality, creating foam from a liquid isn’t onerous: Should you beat, shake or agitate it, you’ll incorporate air, and find yourself with a short lived froth. The difficult half is getting the air to remain. Consider blowing bubbles with a straw into your glass of chocolate milk, then watching as they pop while you pause to take a sip.
However the particular proteins in egg whites (and aquafaba) permit them to inflate right into a billowing mousse — and stay that method longer — earlier than the air escapes and the whites collapse.
As Harold McGee wrote in his meals science compendium, “On Food and Cooking,” eggs are exceptional for his or her means to reap air and type one thing new. Beat a single egg white, he wrote, and also you’ll find yourself with “a cupful of snowy white foam, a cohesive construction that adheres to the bowl while you flip it the other way up.” (Don’t strive that with chocolate milk.)
As they’re overwhelmed, the proteins in egg whites uncoil, trapping air in tiny bubbles. The extra you beat them, the thinner these proteins develop into, and the extra air they’re in a position to seize as they develop into aerated. Including sugar or warmth, or each, to whipped egg whites helps stabilize them by firming up the proteins so their construction stays intact.
The Three Faces of Meringue
There are three kinds of meringues, every with a unique character.
The only, generally known as a French meringue, is produced from beating raw egg whites and sugar, and it’s the lightest and most voluminous of the three. But it surely’s additionally the least secure, liable to interrupt down pretty shortly except baked till onerous. French meringue is usually folded into the batters of baked items to lighten them, similar to sponge cake and macarons, or shaped into pavlovas and meringue kisses to make crunchy, brittle-sugary treats.
Swiss meringue is produced from egg whites and sugar heated in a double boiler till the sugar melts, then overwhelmed till buoyant and creamy. Extra secure than French meringue, Swiss meringue is thicker and never as mild. You’ll discover it used to prime pies and tarts (as within the recipes right here), as the bottom for buttercreams and as a frosting for desserts by itself. (The pastry chef Stella Parks says seven-minute frosting is only a Swiss meringue in disguise.)
The densest, smoothest and most secure of the three is Italian meringue, however it may also be probably the most difficult. It begins with a molten sugar syrup heated to 240 levels, then rigorously overwhelmed right into a bowl of whipped egg whites till the combination cools, changing into silky verging on sticky. Italian meringues can be utilized roughly interchangeably with Swiss meringues, however are preferable when elevated stability is required, as in skilled kitchens and sweet making.
Meringue Performs Nicely With Others
For all of its sweetness and ethereal mouthfeel, meringue by itself doesn’t contribute a lot style, however it pairs brilliantly with different components. With none fats to coat the palate, meringue is a wonderful taste provider, permitting no matter you’re mixing in to shine by way of brightly.
For instance, utilizing brown sugar as a substitute of granulated sugar yields a rich, caramelly butterscotch meringue that makes an surprising pairing with blood orange curd.
Spices, extracts and citrus zest might be included towards the tip of beating, and a bit lemon zest sprinkled into the topping of a lemon meringue pie will increase its tanginess immeasurably.
Then there’s freeze-dried fruit powder, that darling of pastry cooks, which might lend each coloration and verve. And regardless of its excessive fats content material (as a result of fats is the enemy of egg-white fluffing), small quantities of melted, cooled chocolate might be folded into meringue, so long as you utilize a lightweight hand so that you don’t deflate the eggs.
Going a step additional, combining raspberry powder and bittersweet chocolate makes a complex-tasting, fuchsia-streaked meringue that’s an absolute knockout dolloped on a raspberry tart.
In fact, marshmallowy mounds of meringue perched on practically any dessert will make it look like magic. And also you don’t must be a wizard within the kitchen to get there.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/07/eating/meringues-baking.html The Magic of Meringues – The New York Instances