Adventures in Eating: Hard Meringue
by Rosemarie | May 1983
A wonderful dessert, for me, is a good meringue shell filled with ice cream and fresh fruit, preferably strawberries. That season is here already, and I couldn’t resist presenting the meringue mystique to those of you who have had some problems with it. Heaven knows, I did, for such a long time! There are so many “old cooks” tales regarding how to make a good meringue.
I like this method best. Some of the tips have been picked up here and there by wanting to uncover a good formula.
As you all know, meringue consists of egg white and sugar beaten with an acid stabilizer, and slowly baked.
- Humidity is an enemy of meringue. Dry days are best.
- Separate the eggs when cold (much easier), then let the egg whites sit at room temperature before beating. The volume will be better.
- Hard meringue uses 2 times more sugar than soft. For hard meringue, allow ¼ cup sugar for each egg white. Use SUPER FINE SUGAR (a secret). This dissolves faster and easier and is Very Important. If needed, sprinkle one tablespoon of water per egg white to dissolve sugar. Taste for grittiness (that means sugar has not dissolved). After beating in ½ the sugar, add your acid stabilizer and continue with the rest of the sugar.
- Acid stabilizes the foam and prevents overbeating before all the sugar is added. Lemon juice, vinegar or cream of tartar can be added. I use a quarter teaspoon of lemon juice to 2 egg whites.
- Line greased pan with parchment, freezer or brown paper and form meringues to desired shape. Experiment to see how many egg whites you need for the size meringue you wish to make.
- Bake at a low temperature 250-275 degrees for 1 to 1½ hours, or until meringue is dry. Color should be the palest shade of beige throughout. By following these instructions you will not get a chewy, gummy meringue. Good luck!
P.S. Can be baked ahead and kept in airtight containers.