The history and science of meringue, from a new book by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner

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19 Responses to “The history and science of meringue, from a new book by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner”

  1. schlocktober says:

    As a kid, Pavlova was my favorite dessert. If you’re unfamiliar, it is a cake-sized meringue, frosted with whipped cream and garnished with berries, kiwi, banana, etc. Because of its size, it retains moisture. The outside is basic meringue, but the inside is like extraordinarily light, cool souffle. 

    To this day, I think the only Pavlova I’ve ever had was made by my mom. So unless you had dinner at my house sometime in the 80′s, you’re missing out.

    • Vian Lawson says:

       The One True Pavlova is garnished with whipped cream and crushed Peppermint Crisp.  Or passionfruit.  Or crushed up Flake (the lolly, not the fish) …

  2. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The albumen smell stops me cold, but I do like the idea of food that looks like rococo plasterwork.

  3. snowmentality says:

    Fantastic! I adore meringue. Crisp and airy and so much fun to make and eat.

    Things I have learned about meringue:

    1. Make sure your mixing bowl and beaters are clean, free from any specks of oil, grease, or fat. By the same token, when you separate your eggs, make sure absolutely no yolk gets into the whites.

    2. Do not attempt to put any kind of flavoring into the egg whites before whipping them. Whip them first. Then when they are as stiff as you want them, you can fold in flavoring, coloring, etc. Do not listen to any recipe that tells you otherwise. (The first time I made meringue, I followed a recipe that had me add peppermint extract to the egg whites before beating. After an hour of beating I still had a bowl of sticky, disgustingly minty liquid egg whites.)

    3. It is possible to beat meringue by hand, with a wire whisk. But you don’t want to. It takes forever and your arm will hurt.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You need a better whisk. And a copper bowl. Stiff peaks should take three to five minutes.

      • snowmentality says:

        That’s how long they take when I use an electric mixer. Maybe I don’t have the arm strength to whisk fast enough by hand?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          The whisk should be almost horizontal when you’re whisking. The more you let it droop, the less aeration you get.

          If you’re using an electric mixer, the blades are vertical and doing very, very little aerating. They’re just spinning the egg white around rather than getting air down into it.

      • chgoliz says:

        Putting the bowl and whisk in the freezer for a while really helps, as well.

  4. Mitchell Glaser says:

    Yep, meringue is all that! As the article mentions, there is a French concoction called Vacherin, and eating a good one is like having angels dance on your tongue. Unfortnately, lots of cheap pie houses replace the whipped cream that is supposed to adorn a good cream pie with bad meringue. Ugh.

  5. And while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar across a crowded floor.

  6. What I always really wanted to make is a savoury meringue, one with no sugar. Have yet to succeed as sugar is half the magic. My quest continues.

    • John Roberts says:

      You need to make a Souffle.  Cheese, your favorite soup (I make a dandy souffle from an old Rarebit recipe – Tomatoe soup, cheese, worchester sauce, fried onions and stir in a raw egg simmer fold in to meringue and bake) or just about anything can make one.  Starts with beaten egg white just like Meringue. 

  7. I saw a boomerang
    made of meringue.
    It broke in twain
    with a nasty twang.

    And that is why
    I will harangue
    anyone who makes
    weapons of meringue.

  8. Anony Mous says:

    What is wonderful is when you start whipping in tablespoons of softened unsalted butter to the Swiss Meringue. At a certain point the mixture will seem to curdle and fall apart. But if you beat past that cottage cheese looking state you will get fluffy divine buttercream icing. And don’t forget the vanilla.

  9. monkey says:

    I would have contributed my meringue memories to this marvelous conversation, but, I was dancing a spontaneous dance of joy that I am not alone in the world of meringue mavens!

  10. bwcbwc says:

    Derp. It took a couple of paragraphs before I realized this wasn’t about the dance.

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