The Ethereal Dessert: Meringues

A last-minute addition to my Easter dessert offerings this year was meringues, those light and airy confections that are crisp on the outside and marshmallowly chewy on the inside. Incredibly easy to make, these look divine. It’s especially nice to see someone try one for the first time … I love to see that look of surprise when they bite into one and experience their sweetness in a contrast of textures.

There are many ways to dress up meringues, but sometimes simple is just best, especially when they are one of a number of desserts being presented. Elegant, lovely, delicious … all fine qualities in a dessert!

And, a tip just for my readers: if you have leftovers, try one crumbled over vanilla ice cream.  Mmm, mmm, can I have seconds?

Crisp, Chewy Meringues

Thanks to Laura Calder for providing this recipe in her captivating book, French Taste. This recipe makes 15 large meringues. Do note they need to be in the oven a fairly long time, low and slow, so take that into consideration when planning your dinner preparation strategy, or make them a day ahead!

Pre-heat oven to 225ºF (110º C).

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract or other flavouring such as orange flower water, maple extract, etc. I used vanilla this time, but I especially love meringues flavoured with raspberry vinegar
  • pinch cream of tarter
  • 2/3 cup (140 g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (85 g) icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch

Whip the whites with the salt to soft peaks. I definitely recommend an electric mixer for this unless your arms are in excellent shape; I tried using a whisk once and barely made it! Add the vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Stir the cream of tarter into the granulated sugar, and whisk into the whites one spoonful at a time, until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is stiff and glossy. Sift the icing sugar and cornstarch together, then sift over the meringue. Gently fold until completely incorporated.

Spoon or pipe the meringues onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Bake until cream-coloured and crisp on top when tapped. This takes 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Mine took the full hour and a half. 

Cool on the baking sheets, then carefully store in an airtight container.

Treat these pillowy delights with tender loving care. They may be fragile, but they make a huge impression for dessert!

6 comments

  1. OK, Mar, as pretty as these are, you really got my attention when you mentioned the raspberry vinegar. That sounds really good and it is a flavor that most would never expect. Great idea!

    • I’ve made pavlova before with raspberry vinegar in the meringue. It’s surprising what the addition of a small amount does for the flavour! I didn’t have any in the house this time, and thought it would be nice to try something different. These were very good, but I have to say, I prefer them with the raspberry vinegar!

  2. Marlene, these were amazing they looked like something from a Hollywood movie elegant dessert prop!!! They crumble like delicate sponge candy but have a flavor which is pure lemon!!! These are truly a desert treat to be fought over!!!

    • Wow, ”Hollywood movie elegant”! Now that’s a compliment indeed! I think what you picked up on as a lemony tang, is that special taste of the egg whites and sugar, a sort of sweet tang. If it tasted lemony to you, so be it; I’m just glad you enjoyed these!

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