The secret to the perfect meringue is all in the eggs.
Aah, meringue! It’s light and airy and can transform a simple dessert into something spectacular. Making the perfect meringue is much easier than you think. The secret lies in the eggs. Room temperature eggs, to be precise.
What is it about room temperature eggs that creates the perfect meringue? Join us as we investigate.
The science behind your eggs
In addition to being room temperature, older eggs are the key to light, airy meringues. Ideally, eggs should be about three to four days old. Why? As eggs age, the whites get thinner. These thinner egg whites yield fluffier, more voluminous meringues due to the fact that liquid white is better able to drain from the mousse-like bubbles.
Meringues made from older eggs are less stable, so if volume isn’t your primary goal, opt for fresh eggs. (Here’s another time you’ll want to use fresh eggs.)
How to make the perfect meringue
You can find a complete step-by-step guide here, or check out the quick primer below.
Step 1: Separate your eggs
Before you start, you actually want to make sure your eggs are cold. (That’s because cold eggs separate more easily than room temperature ones.) When you’re ready, crack the egg over a bowl, being careful not to let the yolk escape the shell. Gently move the yolk between the two halves of the eggshell, allowing all of the white to fall into the bowl. Pop the yolk into a separate bowl.
Now, let your egg whites stand for about 20 to 30 minutes to reach room temp.
Test Kitchen Tip: Make sure that no traces of fat or grease come into contact with your egg whites. This compromises the whites’ ability to stiffen. Here are 10 more cooking tricks that are only taught at culinary school.
Step 2: Whip the egg whites
Pour your whites into a perfectly clean glass, copper or stainless steel bowl. Set your stand mixer or hand mixer to medium-high. Once your egg whites have formed into soft peaks, go ahead and begin slowly adding in sugar. Continue until you’ve created smooth, glossy peaks with gentle curving tips. For stiff peaks, keep beating the egg whites until they remain straight when you remove the whisk from the bowl. See the difference between soft peaks and stiff peaks.
Voila! Now you’re ready to spread your freshly made meringue over your favorite lemon meringue pie—or lemon meringue pie-inspired dessert. Next, don’t miss these 12 other baking mistakes you didn’t know you were making.