Step-by-step: Meringue

Step-by-step: Meringue

With a little know-how, you can create perfect meringues time and again. Sarah Swain shows us how.

Step 1 Place egg whites in a glass bowl and allow to stand for 15-20 minutes, then whisk using an electric mixer on a low speed.

Step 2 Increase mixer speed as eggs begin to froth. Increase speed to maximum. The egg whites will become thick and creamy.

Step 3 Continue whisking until egg white forms stiff peaks.

Step 4 Add a third of the sugar while continually whisking. Repeat until all the sugar is added.

Step 5 Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence.

Step 6 Use as required. For a pavlova, spoon mixture on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Spread out to form a 23cm round. Make sure there is a substantial hollow in the centre for the filling. Alternatively, place mixture in a piping bag and pipe swirls using a suitably-sized star nozzle to create large or small bite-sized meringues.

Step 7 Cook meringue at 130ºC for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until meringue is firm and crisp on the outside. Cool meringue thoroughly before removing from paper. Fill as desired.

The secret to making a great meringue is to get maximum volume when whisking egg whites. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Separate the eggs carefully. Make sure there’s no egg yolk in the egg whites. Egg yolks need not be wasted – you can use them for glazing baked items or for an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  • Use eggs which are a few days old as they will whisk better than egg whites from fresh eggs. This is because some of the water in the egg white has evaporated.
  • Make sure the beaters you use and the bowl you place the eggs in are grease-free as this will affect the volume you create with your egg whites.
  • Use a glass or china bowl, not an aluminium or plastic one.
  • Always whisk egg whites at room temperature. If the eggs have been kept in the fridge, once the yolk and white have been separated, allow them to stand for 15-20 minutes.
  • Use a metal spoon to fold in cornflour, vanilla essence and vinegar.

Once cooled, store meringues in an airtight container. They should keep fresh and moist for up to 2 weeks. Meringues freeze well unfilled and can
be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Make sure the container you use is free from strong smells.

Place the piping bag with the nozzle pointing down in a tall glass small enough to tuck back the piping bag edge. This allows you to be hands-free to fill the bag easily. Don’t fill the bag more than three-quarters full to avoid any spillage.

Recipe ideas

Berry pavlova
Tropical pavlova nests
Citrus pavlovas
Passionfruit and nectarine pavlovas

Sugar alert!
For our desserts we normally set a limit on free sugars. But pavlova and meringue are always going to be higher in free sugars; there’s no way around it. So keep in mind and save these for a special occasion.

First published: Feb 2009

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