Making the Most of Meringue

Just because we don’t use lots of purchased products on Pesach doesn’t mean dessert is forgotten. By putting basics to work and adding a little creativity, we end our yom tov meals with tasty treats that leave everyone’s sweet tooth satisfied.

Meringue is a great way to dress up any dessert. While some find them daunting, following our simple instructions will help conquer meringue fears and make dessert the star of your meal.

To ensure that the egg whites reach maximum volume, be sure the bowl and beaters are free of grease or fat — this will inhibit the egg whites from whipping up nicely. Allow your eggs to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before whisking. The meringue is ready to bake when it holds stiff peaks, and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it does feel gritty, the sugar has not fully dissolved, so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.

Meringue cookies are baked at a very low heat for a long time. They are not supposed to be browned at all, but they need to be very crisp and dry. They will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container.

When separating eggs for meringue, be sure that not even a tiny bit of yolk gets into the whites. The fat contained in the yolks will inhibit stiffening of the whites. If any yolk falls into the whites, remove it by scooping it up with the jagged edge of your open shells.

Meringues

4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 175 degrees, and line 2 large baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Turn up the speed on the mixer, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer to check on your foam. Soft peaks will fall over when the beaters are lifted out. Continue beating, adding 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time and beating well after each addition, until stiff. Check foam by stopping the mixer and lifting the beaters. Peaks should stay upright and not fall at all. Be careful not to over-beat, as your egg whites can go from perfect to grainy in a few seconds. This will take about 10 minutes.
Using a pastry tube fitted with a large star tip, pipe the meringue in rosettes or stars directly onto the lined pans.

Bake 2 hours or until meringues are dry and crisp. Avoid preparing meringues on a rainy day as the excessive moisture in the air will cause your meringues to weep or run.

You can also pipe them in a ring or “nest” as shown in the photo, and fill them with lemon curd or your favorite ices or sorbet.

Lemon Curd

1/4 oil

3 large egg yolks

3 large whole eggs

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon Cointreau, divided

1 sugar

1 ¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Over double boiler, whisk together oil, egg yolks and whole eggs, lemon juice and sugar. When mixture has thickened to texture of loose pudding, remove from heat and let it set. Spoon cooled curd into meringue nests to serve.

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pinch salt

3 egg whites

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.

Place 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa and salt into a food processor. Puree until the sugar is ground fine.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, and beat until medium-firm peaks form. Sprinkle in cocoa mixture gradually, and continue beating until egg whites are stiff. Fold in chocolate chips, if using. Drop mixture onto baking sheets by rounded teaspoonfuls, or pipe them using an 18” piping bag and a large star tip, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Cool cookies on baking sheets.