Meringues are a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth treat. Impossibly light, airy, and oh so delicious. They're the fancy pants version of cotton candy, if you ask me.
While living in Italy, I spent much of my time drooling at the windows of bakeries and pastry shops. There were always so many interesting things to try, and meringues were one of the treats that always caught my eye. For one, they came in so may pretty colors and flavors, but also...they came in such a variety of sizes! There were a few shops in Venice that made their meringues comically large, as big as a Big Mac, if not bigger. I never got around to trying one of the gigantic ones, since I am more of a little-bit-of-everything girl when it comes to pastry shopping. The meringues in Paris were quite mouth-watering as well, so it seemed like a no-brainer to make my own now that I'm back home.
Meringues are pretty easy to modify to suit your tastes. This recipe is for vanilla bean meringues, but you could certainly substitute another flavor in place of the vanilla. I like to use peppermint extract and add some pink food coloring around the holidays. Have fun with them. If you decide to make huge meringues like the shops in Venice, you'll need to bake them for quite a bit longer.
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 24 meringues 1x
- 4 egg whites
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Continue whisking and add the superfine sugar gradually, about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing the sugar to completely incorporate between additions. The mixture should feel smooth, not gritty, when you rub it between your fingers. Continue mixing as needed until mixture is smooth and sugar has dissolved completely. Beat in vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring. Continue beating until smooth and glossy.
- Gently fold in the confectioner's sugar with a silicone spatula. Using a piping bag with a large fluted pastry tip, pipe the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving two inches between each meringue. (Be sure to fill the piping bag in batches, and be careful not to squeeze or stir the meringue mixture too much--you don't want to deflate it.)
- Place baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven and turn the heat down to 275 degrees F. For gooey centers: Bake for 45 minutes then turn oven off and leave door closed for 15 more minutes before removing to cool. For firm centers: Bake for 60-70 minutes until baked through.
- Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Adapted from Sweet Paris by Michael Paul