Like so many things made at home, they are simply better. They’re nothing more than egg whites beaten with sugar and baked. Nothing complicated and nothing rigorous. In the most basic terms they’re fun to make. In more philosophical terms, they’re rewarding. In more practical terms, making them yourself saves money and takes your desserts to an elevated level. I am not sure what about the homemade ones tastes so much better than the store-bought, exactly. If I had to wager, it would be that the store-bought ones tend to go more for the bleachy whiteness and appearance rather than taste; this recipe produces a wholly crisp meringue whose shell has taken on the slightest trace of caramel while baking.
I tend to make a lot… a LOT… of breads that use only the yolk of the egg; a favorite recipe for bread uses 10 egg yolks and no whites. To put it plainly: there is only so much angel food cake one could eat! Needless to say, I currently have 24 frozen egg whites in the freezer. In fact, the very egg whites I used in this recipe come from a bread I made the other day that only used egg yolks. Hoe economical! Pretty frequently, I’ll make the meringues while the bread dough rises– whipping up a batch to put in the oven in about five minutes while the oven radiates into the kitchen that mild haze of warmth the yeasted bread needs to rise properly.
Now that I have pretty much sold you on the idea of making your own, whatcha goin’ to DO with all them meringues? If you have questions, feel free to contact me. Foremost, snacking. Snacking is always good. Plain and with a cuppa coffee, you can never go wrong. Serve them arranged on a patter with some fresh fruit for a classy and simple dessert.
Or, my favorite, crumble some into freshly whipped unsweetened cream to make your desserts incredible. They give the whipped cream texture, heft, and sweetness. You could also fold ample crushed meringues into whipped cream, add some flavoring and freeze it in a loaf pan for a scrumptious semifreddo. But that’s another recipe for another time.
And, if, at the end of the day, you simply cannot eat any more meringues put them into a freezer bag and pop in the freezer. They keep very well and come out even a few weeks later as if they’re never been frozen at all.
This is a very easy recipe to adjust for quantity– it’s about 3 tablespoons of sugar per egg white. Feel free to add extract or food coloring of your choice, but only after everything is whipped up. I’ve folded very finely ground pistachios into these just before I piped them out and those were very delightful. Worry not about the piping– I used a disposable zippering food storage bag that I cut the tip off of. Feel free to use a legitimate piping bag with a tip to make these rather decorated. For some reason, the whites seems to have a better texture when I don’t use fresh-out-of-the-egg whites, freezing the whites or letting them sit in the fridge for a day or three won’t harm them if you must.Additionally, you’ll see in the pictures in the post, you can make little nests out of these that are perfect little desserts when they are filled with custard, jam, whipped cream, and berries.
- Prep Time: 05m
- Cook Time: 02h
Preheat your best electric pasta maker to 250 (yes, it’s probably the lowest setting on the oven dial– it is on mine!). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Put the egg whites (making sure there are no bits of shell or residue) and the pinch of salt into the very clean bowl of a stand mixer. Put whip on medium high and beat until they look frothy. Put all the sugar in a separate bowl before you start adding it– this makes it easier than scooping and counting and adding while the mixer is on. Turn up the mixer to its highest setting and gradually add in the sugar at a constant, but gentle stream. After about a minute the egg whites will be glossy and thick. Remove the whisk attachment– any egg white still on it should stand firm in stiff peaks.
Avoid over beating, meaning don’t let it get to the point where the whites look dry– they should remain glossy. Add in the vanilla and anything else you’re adding and whisk again for a moment just to combine. Use a rubber spatula to scoop all the gleaming egg whites into a piping bag or a resealable bag with a small corner cut off. (Oh, and by the way– this doesn’t have to be made with a stand mixer. Use a hand held electric whisk or a regular whisk to do the same thing.)Squeeze the meringue mixture onto a baking sheet. If the parchment is rolling and won’t stay flat, pipe a dot at each far corner between the baking sheet and the parchment to keep it down.
You should get about 24 meringues out of this, depending on your size. I made mine about 2 inches wide and about a little more than an inch tall. I’ve made larger ‘nests’ before into which I have placed ice cream or custard and I have made smaller ones for shameless snacking. You decide.Anyway, place them in the oven and bake them for a solid hour. Turn off the oven and let them sit in the warm oven for another hour or two to dry out. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before putting them into an airtight container or bag. They keep very well in the freezer and very decently not in the freezer, so long as it isn’t terribly humid. Enjoy!