Meringue is a type of dessert that is made from whipped egg whites and sugar, and it is used in a variety of sweet treats. From light and fluffy pavlovas to crisp and crunchy macarons, meringue adds a touch of sweetness and a unique texture to a variety of desserts. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of meringue and some of the different ways it is used in desserts.
History of Meringue
The origins of meringue are somewhat shrouded in mystery, with different stories and theories about where and when it was first made. Some say that meringue was invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen, hence the name "meringue." Others believe that it was created by an Italian chef in honor of the Battle of Meringues, a 17th century battle between France and Savoy.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding its origins, meringue has been enjoyed for centuries as a sweet treat. It was likely first made as a way to use up leftover egg whites, which were whipped with sugar and baked to create a light and airy dessert. Meringue was popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it has remained a beloved dessert ingredient ever since.
Types of Meringue
There are several different types of meringue, each with its own characteristics and uses in desserts. Here are a few of the most common types of meringue:
French meringue: French meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar together until stiff peaks form. It is the most basic and versatile type of meringue, and it can be used in a variety of desserts.
Italian meringue: Italian meringue is made by beating hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites. It is more stable than French meringue and has a glossy, marshmallow-like texture. It is often used in meringue-based desserts such as pavlova and dacquoise, as well as in buttercream frostings.
Swiss meringue: Swiss meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler until the mixture is warm and the sugar is dissolved. It is then beaten until stiff peaks form. Swiss meringue is smoother and creamier than French meringue, and it is often used in meringue-based desserts such as macarons.
Aquafaba meringue: Aquafaba meringue is a vegan version of meringue that is made with the liquid from a can of chickpeas (also known as aquafaba). It can be whipped and sweetened in the same way as egg white meringue, and it is a good option for those who are allergic to eggs or follow a plant-based diet.
Desserts Made with Meringue
There are many delicious desserts that are made with meringue, including:
Pavlova: Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert that is made with a crispy outer layer and a soft, marshmallow-like center. It is often topped with fruit and whipped cream.
Dacquoise: Dacquoise is a French dessert that is made from layers of meringue and whipped cream, often with a flavor such as chocolate or nuts. It is light, fluffy, and delicately sweet.
Macarons: Macarons are small, round cookies that are made with ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar. They have a crispy outer shell and a soft, chewy center, and they are often filled with buttercream or ganache.
Meringue cookies: Meringue cookies are small, crisp cookies that are made with whipped egg whites and sugar. They can be flavored with various ingredients such as vanilla, chocolate, or nuts, and they can be shaped into a variety of forms such as kisses, shells, or nests.
Lemon meringue pie: Lemon meringue pie is a dessert that is made with a crust, a layer of lemon curd, and a topping of fluffy meringue. The meringue is baked until it is golden brown, creating a crisp and crunchy texture.
Baked Alaska: Baked Alaska is a dessert that is made with layers of cake, ice cream, and meringue. The entire dessert is coated in a thick layer of meringue and then baked until the meringue is golden brown and the ice cream is still frozen.
Meringue towers: Meringue towers are towering structures made of stacked meringue disks that are held together with whipped cream or buttercream. They can be decorated with fruit, chocolate, or other toppings.
Meringue nests: Meringue nests are small, hollowed-out meringue shells that are often filled with whipped cream and fruit. They can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes, and they make a delightful, light and fluffy dessert.
Meringue is a delicious and versatile dessert ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries. From light and fluffy pavlovas to crisp and crunchy macarons, meringue adds a touch of sweetness and a unique texture to a variety of desserts. Whether you are a fan of classic French meringue or the more modern aquafaba meringue, there is a meringue recipe out there for you to enjoy!