French Meringues

Meringues are like beautiful women: wonderful to behold, French Meringuesbut absurdly temperamental. Meringue batter is notorious for being difficult to work with. Your egg temperature needs to be right, your bowl must be immaculately clean, and of course you have to whip the egg whites to the always daunting “stiff peaks” stage. Fear not! I too have started with high meringue hopes and ended up with flat marshmallow gloop. Learn from my past mistakes, and you too can make perfectly delicate meringues.

In the past, I’ve made vanilla and chocolate meringues—delicious but simple. Since tomorrow is the Fourth of July, I decided to add some American flair* to this very French dessert. The white meringues are tried and true vanilla. The red are strawberry, and blue are blueberry. I added jam and a bit of food coloring to get the correct flavors and colors. I was nervous the extras would thin the batter or the fruit flavor wouldn’t come through, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they turned out! Yes, the colors are a bit pastel to be true American red and blue, but the berry flavors come through. The crisp outer shell and chewy middle was so worth the work!

Helpful Hints

  • Make sure your bowl and whisk attachment are completely clean and dry. I recommend using a metal bowl over a plastic bowl. Oils can unknowingly cling to plastic and ruin your meringue. Of course, if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer this isn’t a problem, lucky you**.
  • Use room temperature eggs.
  • Separate your yolks and whites carefully! Even a tiny speck of yolk can affect how your whites beat up.
  • One last thing about eggs, don’t use your hands to separate them. Oils on your hands could get in the egg whites.
  • Add sugar slowly! And only after soft peaks have formed.
  • Lastly, if your egg whites don’t stiffen—don’t freak. You now have more experience for next time, and you can use what looks like gloop to make cookies or brownie spread or ice cream topping. You haven’t failed if you can still end your day eating ice cream.

*Personal Admission #6: I just realized that the French flag is also red, white, and blue. Why yes, I do have a college degree! So I guess it’s not too far a stretch for the French cookie, but it’s still a fun way to celebrate the Fourth.

**Personal Admission #7: That was SUPER snarky, and I apologize. That was just my Kitchen Aid envy talking. It talks A LOT. Have I mentioned I don’t have a stand mixer??

Beating Eggs Whites In Triumph, Not Tears 

Egg whites
Plain old egg whites.
Frothy, bubbly egg whites
White and frothy and ready for cream of tartar.
Soft peak stage, egg whites
Soft peaks stage. The whites look more solid but are still airy and don’t hold their shape well.
Stiff peaks stage, egg whites
Stiff peaks stage achieved!! The whites are glossy and hold their shape!
French Meringues
Flavored, dyed, and ready to bake!

Recipe

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. blueberry jam
  • 2 drops blue food coloring (optional)
  • 2 tsp. strawberry jam
  • 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 225°. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Separate eggs in a metal bowl.
  3. Beat eggs on high speed until white and frothy. Add cream of tartar.
  4. Beat eggs on high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar about a tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.
  5. Separate batter in thirds.
  6. Add vanilla to one third. Pipe onto pans in medium sized dollops.(Be careful with these final steps. Mixing or adding too much could deflate the meringues.)
  7. Gently fold blue food coloring and blueberry jam to the second third. Then pipe onto pans.
  8. Gently fold red food coloring and strawberry jam to the last third. Pipe on pans.
  9. Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Then turn the oven off and let the meringues dry completely.

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