meringue, Swiss

  • Currently 4/5
this is one of three techniques (French, Italian, Swiss) for making meringues. the other two methods are either not stable enough (French) or too complicated for me to even attempt (Italian).

the Swiss method involves using a bain-marie (aka double boiler) for whipping the egg whites into the necessary stiff peaks. and for those wary about salmonella, the bain-marie step will bring the eggs up to a temperature that will kill any bacteria, basically, pasteurizing the eggs.

according to Harold McGee, bringing it up to 140ºF/60ºC and holding for 5 minutes or bringing it up to 160ºF/70ºC for 1 minute ensure the highest safety standards. egg whites begin to thicken at 145ºF/63ºC, however, so opt for the former. whites will set and yolks begin to thicken at 150ºF/65ºC, fyi.
5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
Special equipments
medium saucepan
heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel, glass or copper*
instant-read thermometer
mixer with a whisk attachment, if possible
pastry bag (18")
1. preheat oven to 200ºF.
2. fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
3. in a bowl or any other container that you have placed over the simmering saucepan to allow a slow even heat, whisk the egg whites and sugar. at this point, you don't have to beat it too briskly, just enough to break up the egg whites and up until the temperature reaches 140ºF. at this point, the sugar will have completely dissolved.
4. remove from heat and at the lowest speed on your mixer, beat the meringue until it starts to foam and then take it to the next higher setting. continue to gradually increase the speed until you are at the maximum and continue to beat until it forms stiff peaks. the meringue will look very glossy and the peaks are stiff enough that they stand on their own and don't droop downwards.
5. now, working as quickly as you can while the meringue is still set, fill up your pastry bag, halfway, and pipe those babies into golf-ball sized mounds onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing them 1/2 inch apart.
alternatively, you can also spoon them with two teaspoons and drop them onto the cookie sheet. these will be more quirky looking, expressive meringues.
6. bake for about 1 1/2 -2 hours until they are dried out. Break one open and the inside should be dry. to ensure that they are completely dry, turn off the oven, crack open the door and allow the meringues to cool down.
*do not use plastic or aluminum bowls. plastic develops little nicks which might lodge grease pockets that are no-nos. you don't want grease as it prevents the egg whites from being beaten to their full capacity. so no finger dipping, please. can't remember why aluminum is bad but I would opt for stainless steel.

i would err on the side of underbeating rather than overbeating. the stages of the meringue will be Foamy to Soft peaks to Firm peaks and up to Stiff peaks. Firm and Stiff are very similar with a very glossy sheen and so it's hard to judge if it's really stiff where you have beaten the egg whites to it's maximum meringue-ness or just firm it's at this point where i usually overdo it and end up with an unattractive glob. so i wuss out and now underdo it. just firm isn't all that bad. here's a good photo guide of soft, firm and stiff.

if you want a little bit of insurance that it won't collapse, add cornstarch dissolved in a little bit of water to stabilize the foam. also has the added bonus of giving an extra glamour gloss for those photographic moments. go to the Baking 911 website for good tips, as it has information on how to keep your meringues from becoming weepy and for adding the cornstarch to your meringue.
Dish   DessertCooking Method   Baked
Prep Time   15 to 30 minutesCooking Time   2 hours
Features   Dairy-Free, Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Low-Sodium, Vegetarian

More recipes like this one...