Meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and caster sugar. Some meringue recipes call for adding a binding agent such as cream of tartar or the cornstarch found in confectioner's sugar. Meringues are often flavoured with vanilla and a small amount of almond or coconut extract. They are very light and airy and extremely sweet. The notion that meringue was invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen by an Italian chef named Gasparini is contended. It is more certain that the name meringue for this confection first appeared in print in François Massialot's cookbook of 1692. The word meringue first appeared in English in 1706 in an English translation of Massialot's book. Two considerably seventeenth-century English manuscript books of recipes give instructions for confections that are recognizable as meringue, though called "white biskit bread" in the book of receipts started in 1604 by Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 - c. 1647) of Appleton in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), or called "pets" in the manuscript of collected recipes written by Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 - 1680), of Knole, Kent.
Typically, two whipped egg whites and of caster sugar are what compose a single batch cooked meringue.
When beating egg whites, they are classified in three stages according to the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: soft, medium, and stiff peaks.
In an Italian meringue, a hot sugar syrup is whipped into softly whipped egg whites till stiff. This type of meringue is safe to use without cooking. It will not deflate for a long while and can be either used on pies and Baked Alaska, or spread on a sheet and baked for meringues.
Meringues used like cookies are baked at a very low heat for a long time. One name for them is "Forgotten Cookies" as they can be left in a gas oven for long periods of time after the cooking is done. They are not supposed to be "tanned" at all, but they need to be very crisp and dry. Cooked meringue cannot be refrigerated or it will become soggy. They will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container.
Meringue can be used as the basis for various other desserts including angel food cake, pavlova, Baked Alaska, Queen of Puddings, Key lime pie, and lemon meringue pie. In these cases, the meringue may be cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, resulting in a soft meringue with slightly browned peaks on top.
A common dish served with meringues is curry chicken. The spiciness of the chicken greatly compliments the coolness and refreshing meringue, and is considered a delicacy in Serbia. Another dish is "Meringue de Angel", which consists of a shortbread cookies layered with meringue and lemon curd, topped off with drizzled lemon glaze. Variations include raspberries, peaches, mangos, blueberries, blackberries, pineapple, papayas, honeydew, oranges, cantaloupe, or cherries and strawberries.
Meringue Cookies; Pavlova; Meringue Nut Kisses; Cookie Cutter Meringues; Chocolate and Cinnamon Meringues; Muscat-Poached Pears Hidden in Meringue.
Dec 21, 1998; For a lighter holiday treat, try these Meringue recipes: Meringue Cookies 1 to 2 teaspoons butter plus 1 to 2...