Meringue should be light, airy, and nicely golden on the top, but it can be temperamental to say the least.
Follow these tips for perfect meringue every time:
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature*
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
*If your pie filling or custard calls for egg yolks only, save the whites and use them for your meringue!
- Add egg whites + salt together in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Using a hand mixer or electric stand mixer, whip on high until soft peaks form, ~2-4 minutes. Keep a close eye on it.
- Slowly, add the sugar in small portions while the mixer is running. Keep beating until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form. This should take ~5 minutes, give or take a couple.
- Spoon your meringue over a room-temperature or chilled pie.
- Bake at 375 degrees F until golden brown on the peaks, about 10 minutes.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- When covering the pie with meringue, make sure to completely cover the pie filling and have the meringue meet the crust. Otherwise, it will shrink in the baking process and expose the filling.
- Don't have an electric mixing option? Fear not. Chefs and home cooks were making meringue long before the advent of electric mixers. You'll just need a little fortitude, elbow grease, and a hand whisk you can trust (the more tines, the better). Just follow the same directions as above. Make sure to work as much air into the egg whites as possible with each beat. When adding the sugar, just make sure to add it 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait until the sugar has completely dissolved before adding another tablespoon.
- Egg whites are easier to separate when cold, but it's easier to add air into whites that are room temperature. Separate your eggs right out of the fridge, and allow them to come to temperature on your counter prior to beginning the meringue.
- Fat is the death of a meringue. Make sure to carefully separate your eggs so no yolk enters this mix. (Check here for tips) And make sure all of your equipment (bowls, whisks, etc.) are fully cleaned of any grease from prior cooking escapades.
- For this same reason, avoid using plastic bowls, as these can hide traces of cooking past in tiny cracks. Use copper, stainless steel, or glass when whipping meringue.
- Some recipes call for cream of tarter. While this isn't necessary for meringue perfection, it does add some bulk and makes your meringue less likely to fall.
- Granulated sugar works fine, superfine sugar works even better if you have it.
- When spooning meringue on top of pie, the more peaks you have, the prettier it will brown. (That is to say, don't aim for a smooth topping. Allow peaks and valleys to form).
- The beating times listed above are relative. They can even change day to day, depending on the weather. Keep a close eye and check frequently for peaks. If you get there in 3 minutes, stop. If, at 5 minutes, it's still too runny, keep going.
I <3 meringue.
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