This meringue may be used alone to top cake, or it can be folded into another mixture, such as a mousse, Bavarian cream, pastry cream or lemon curd. You can bake or broil it. You can even count on it to insulate ice cream from melting too quickly, as in a baked Alaska. Add butter to it, and you have Italian Meringue Buttercream.

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Ingredients

  • cup (about 3) egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

Cooking Equipment

3-cup copper sugar pot or similar 3-cup heavy-bottomed saucepan, mercury candy thermometer

Method

Ingredient Preparations

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Set the 2 tablespoons sugar nearby.

Cooking the Sugar Syrup

Pour the water, then the ½ cup sugar into the copper sugar pot or saucepan (add the water first so the sugar will dissolve rather than stick to the bottom). Stir or swirl the pot to combine the ingredients and moisten the sugar. Place over low heat to dissolve the sugar. When it has completely dissolved, raise the heat to medium-high. Wash down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan by dipping a pastry brush into water in a glass and then brushing the crystals away from the sides into the sugar syrup. Continue to dip into water and wash the sides as needed. (Or place a lid on top for 1 minute as the mixture begins to boil; it catches the steam and drops moisture back into the pot, washing down the sides.) Continue to boil, uncovered, until the syrup registers 210 degrees on the mercury thermometer (this temperature is merely a guideline, suggesting when to begin whipping the egg whites).

Whipping the Egg Whites

As the syrup continues to boil, attach the bowl to the heavy-duty mixer, and using the whisk attachment, whip the whites on medium-low speed (#4) for 30 seconds. When small bubbles appear, producing a frothy surface, increase the speed to medium (#5), and add 1 teaspoon of the 2 tablespoons sugar. Maintaining same speed, continue whipping until soft white peaks form. Add the remainder of the sugar in a steady stream.

Finishing the Meringue

Simultaneously continue boiling the syrup and checking the thermometer as the whites whip until the syrup registers close to 245 degrees. Remove it from the heat. Its temperature will continue to rise as it waits for the whites. When the syrup registers 248 to 249 degrees and the whites are thick, stiff and glossy but not dry or granular, pour the hot syrup in a slow, steady stream near the side of the bowl onto the whipped whites. Do not pour the liquid directly onto the wire whisk attachment. As the hot syrup is poured onto the whipped whites, the mixture immediately expands, almost tripling its volume. After all the syrup has been incorporated, continue to whip it for 2 to 3 more minutes. The mixture will thicken and form glossy, stiff peaks and will have a marshmallowlike appearance.

Cooling the Meringue

Reduce speed to low (#2 to #3), and continue whipping to set the meringue’s structure (about 8 to 10 minutes), until the meringue is at room temperature and very thick.

If the Italian meringue is incorporated into another mixture before it is thoroughly cooled, its heat could dissolve the other mixture, including its sugar particles. If necessary, transfer the meringue to a large plate, spreading it with a rubber spatula over the surface to cool completely (about 15 to 30 minutes) before it is combined with another mixture.

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