French Meringue Recipe

Having tried quite a few French meringues, I can say I prefer Roland Mesnier’s version hands down. Not only is it good and sturdy, it actually has flavor beyond mere sugary sweetness. When I made meringue mushrooms out of it, the missus wouldn’t believe that I hadn’t added any additional flavorings. It’s that complex and caramel-y. This amount is enough for four 10-inch round cake layers, so if you need less, you can scale it down by as much as 75% and it will still work in a stand mixer. The formula is:

14 ounces (2 cups) granulated sugar
8 ounces (2 cups) powdered sugar
1 ounce (3 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
8 egg whites

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Whisk the powdered sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a whip, whip the egg whites on high to the soft peak stage. With the machine running, add the granulated sugar in a steady stream (plus any extract or color you care to add) and whip to stiff peaks. Fold in the powdered sugar/flour mixture by hand.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag and pipe with a large, plain tip into whatever shape you wish. Bake both small and large shapes for 20-30 minutes with the oven door propped open with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape. Check at the 20 minute mark to see if there’s any browning. If so (and you don’t want it) turn the oven down to 200 (for extra caramelization, turn the oven up to 300).

Bake until your meringues are completely dry, another half an hour for very small shapes, about one and a half hours for large cake layers. Cool them completely on the baking sheets and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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10 Responses to French Meringue Recipe

  1. Karen says:

    What’s the difference between French, Italian, and Swiss meringue? and how many types of meringue are there?

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Karen!

      That’s a tough question because there are so many different ways to make meringue. In general the differences between them have to do with technique — the way the sugar is incorporated into the whites. Some add the sugar directly, some make a syrup out of the sugar then add it to the whites, some make a syrup out of the sugar AND the whites. And of course within France, Italy and Switzerland there are variations. All of them have slightly different properties as a result of the way they’re made, how much sugar they contain, how much flour they may contain…and that makes them better for certain types of applications.

      Sometime I should attempt a taxonomy of meringues. That might be really useful and interesting — and cut down on a lot of confusion. Thanks for the email, Karen, you’ve given me some serious food for thought. – Joe

  2. Karen says:

    I’ll look forward to that. I just remembered a friend who told me to use swiss meringue for my chocolate mousse during my finals in cooking school. He said it’s for food safety reasons with the eggwhites being pasteurized and all, unlike with other types of meringue. And how the mousse basically contains raw whites …

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Karen!

      Oh yes, from a food safety perspective Swiss meringue is an outstanding way to go. There really is a difference there, though most meringues are so sweet they resist microbial growth, it never hurts to be safe.

  3. Chris says:

    Hi – just discovered your website….love it. But I want to make chocolate meringue – can you give instructions for that?

    Thanks

    • joepastry says:

      Thanks Chris! And welcome! For a chocolate version of this, complete the meringue, transfer it to a bowl and sift 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder over the top. Fold it in gently until no streaks remain!

      - Joe

  4. Jamie says:

    I want to make a meringue that’s gooey in the middle and crisp on the out side any good recipes ????

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jamie!

      Most any meringue will turn out like that depending on how you bake it. A very hot oven will crisp the outside quickly while leaving the inside still gooey. So, it’s less in the recipe than in the technique!

      - Joe

  5. Zoë says:

    It’s a meringue emergency Joe! I’m trying to make my beloved hubby’s birthday cake which I’ve done many times before – it’s really pretty simple, just layers of plain french meringue with chocolate creme patisserie.

    But my meringues are a disaster this evening – I’m following my super simple recipe which has worked before. 6 egg whites, whipped with a pinch of cream of tartar to soft peaks, then gradually adding in 300g caster sugar and whipping to stiff glossy peaks. Easy, right? Noooo it’s all turning to meringue soup when I add the sugar. I *think* I’m doing it right – not super fresh eggs, at room temperature, clean metal bowl.
    I thought I was just over-whipping them into oblivion by adding sugar too gradually, so I also tried the method you suggest, adding the sugar in a steady stream. But… no dice. Soup again.

    So, as the designated Pastry Oracle, any ideas what I’m doing wrong? Thanks!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Zoë!

      Sorry to be late, I was on vacation all last week! This is a puzzler. Your foam collapsed as soon as you added sugar?

      Let me know if you figured this one out!

      - Joe

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