During my degree at catering school, we learned that there are two ways to make Swiss meringue. One way is to heat the mixture using a blowtorch and the oven, but I find that sugar crystallizes and becomes hard and lumpy. I much prefer the method below, using a bain-marie and sugar thermometer. As long as you use an accurate probe thermometer, it is foolproof. You can use this recipe on top of Key lime meringue pie.
Fill a medium pan with 5cm of water and place it on the hob. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat, and as soon as it is boiling, reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk them up until they become light and frothy.
Put the bowl over the now simmering water and keep whisking all the time until the temperature reaches 70°C (160°F) on your sugar thermometer. This will take 5–7 minutes. Once it has reached this temperature, remove the meringue from the heat and keep whisking until the mixture has cooled down and has become very thick, glossy and almost marshmallow-like in texture. It will take about 10–15 minutes to do this stage by hand, or once the mixture has reached 50°C (121°F) you can pop it into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk at high speed until it is body temperature and stiff peaks have formed – this will take about 6–8 minutes.
To check that it is ready, take some of the meringue on the end of the whisk, then turn the whisk meringue-covered end up – the meringue should be super stiff and not floppy. Some say to hold the bowl over your head – if none comes out then it is ready!
Use the Swiss meringue as required.
© Lorraine Pascale, 2017. Images: © Myles New, 2017.