Italian Meringue. {Recipe, Technique}

Blog, Confectionery, Cookies, Techniques, Toppings

The new year is fast approaching! Have you all made your resolutions yet? One of mine is to continue this blog and share more recipes and cake techniques with you. I can hardly wait!

For the last recipe of the year I wanted to share a simple but very useful and versatile recipe for Italian Meringue. Let me explain.

First, you can use this recipe to make meringues like I’ll show you below, which is always a good recipe to have on hand.

Second, I use it for the base of my buttercream (Italian Meringue Buttercream, I’ll post the recipe soon!) which I love for its stability and fluffy yet buttery texture.

Third, it can be used for the topping of any meringue pie (see the photo below), and you can do the same with cakes, cupcakes, and so many other desserts (like this, this, or this).

I think the technique is so useful, and don’t be intimidated by using a candy thermometer! It’s not scary, just make sure the probe is fully submerged in the sugar but not touching the bottom of the pan so you can get an accurate reading. Once you feel comfortable with it, the technique (and candy thermometer skills) can be used for so many other confections.

What is Italian Meringue?

Italian meringue is simply a meringue in which you cook the sugar to soft ball stage (238F/120C), then pour a slow stream of said cooked sugar into egg whites that have been whipped to soft peaks. This mixture is then whipped until stiff peaks form and the meringue has dropped to room temperature. It makes the most stable meringue, and I prefer it over both Swiss and French meringues for both its stability and lightness.

So, what are Swiss and French meringues?

Swiss meringue is a technique in which the sugar and egg whites are stirred and heated together over a double boiler (or bain marie) until they reach 174F/79C. They’re then whisked in a mixer until they reach stiff peaks and room temperature. This is another popular choice for buttercream since the egg whites are heated to a safe temperature for consumption and some prefer it over Italian meringue. 

French meringue is the simplest form, great for cooked applications like lady fingers, but the least stable and not temperature treated (its not considered safe for consumption in a raw application like buttercream or meringue topping on a pie). It’s the most popular for it’s simplicity which is beating egg whites to soft peaks and slowly introducing the sugar, then whipping until stiff peaks form.

So there you have it, the basic techniques and uses of different types of meringues.

With that said, let’s get to the recipe and technique for Italian meringue!

Italian Meringue.

*3 Sheet Trays, see note (depending on the size and shape)

Tools + Ingredients

Tools

Small Saucepan

Sheet Trays

Parchment Paper

Candy Thermometer

Pastry Brush

Ramekin or Small Bowl

Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment (you can make it with a hand-mixer but it’s much more difficult)

Heat Proof Silicone Spatula

Piping Bag and Piping Tips (if you want meringue kisses)

 

Italian Meringue

500g sugar

300g egg whites (**from about 10 large eggs, see note)

200g water

 

Flavourings (Limitless! Here’s a few ideas to get you started)

Hazelnut Praline Crunch to sprinkle before baking (my favourite!)

Dark Chocolate or White Chocolate, melted, to dip or drizzle after baking (here is some inspo)

Rainbow Sprinkles, Nuts, Freeze Dried Fruits to sprinkle on, or dip in, after chocolate

Jam, Cocoa Powder or Spices to fold in before baking

Zest of any fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit) to fold in before baking

 

Notes:

 *this recipe can be halved but not reduced further. This is to avoid the whisk not being able to reach the eggwhites and whip them properly.

**you may use pasteurized egg whites, but they won’t give you the same volume as fresh.

 

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Don’t have a kitchen scale? Check out my favourite cup to gram conversion chart here.

Using cup measures instead of weight can be tricky and inaccurate for dry ingredients so I recommend investing in a scale if you can. There’s tons of different options to choose from like this, this or this.

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Some of these product links are affiliate links which means when you make a purchase, I will make a commission. This is at no extra cost to you and helps to support this blog (thank you!). I have tried and loved all the products I recommend and link to, but I recommend them first and foremost because they are useful, not because of the small commission received when you purchase them.

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Recipe

Italian Meringue
  1. Preheat oven to 275F/130C.
  2. Scale out egg-whites into the bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attachment. Begin whisking on medium-high while you prepare your sugar mixture and continue to whip only until soft peaks form (see first photo above).
  3. Place sugar and water into your small saucepan and clip on, or insert the probe of your candy thermometer. The sensor should be submerged but not touching the bottom of the pot. Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally with your heatproof spatula until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling.
  4. Fill your small ramekin or bowl with water and wet your pastry brush, then brush the sides of your pot to ‘clean’ it of any undissolved sugar which will prevent it from crystalizing. (If your sugar crystallizes add a quarter cup of water and stir until it re-dissolves then keep the sides extra clean next time).
  5. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 248F/120C on your candy thermometer then immediately remove your saucepan from the stove to halt the sugar from cooking any further.
  6. Turn mixer on medium-high and in a slow but even stream begin to pour the liquid sugar down the side of the bowl, avoiding the whisk (see second photo above). Continue this slow and even stream of sugar until the pot is empty. Don’t scrape the pot clean with your spatula as this can cause crystalized sugar to be added to your meringue.
  7. After a minute or two when the meringue looks like it’s holding its shape, turn your mixer down to medium and let it run until the bowl feels barely warmer than your hands when you touch it near the bottom. At this point the meringue should hold a stiff peak when the whisk is held up and it should also be glossy. Then it’s ready to use in whichever application you choose (see third photo above).

(flavouring and baking continued below)

 

Flavouring and Baking
  1. If you want to fold anything into the meringues, this is the time (think jam, cocoa, spices or zest).
  2. Now, make whatever shape meringues you’d like and place them on your parchment lined baking sheet. Use an 8mm tip and piping bag to make meringue kisses, use two spoons to make artful swooshy blobs, the possibilities are endless! If you’re into sprinkling something ontop before they bake, do that now (see hazelnut praline meringues above, my highest recommendation for flavouring)
  3. For smaller meringues: bake for 2 hours at 275F/130C or until the meringues are firm to the touch, then turn off your oven and leave it slightly ajar*. For larger meringues: bake for 2 hours, then turn your oven down to 200F/93C for another hour or two until they’re firm to the touch, then turn off your oven and leave it slightly ajar to cool down for a few hours*. *I use a wooden spoon in the oven door to prevent it from closing, I find in my oven this helps any excess moisture escape so the meringues can crisp up.
  4. Your meringues are done! Dip, drizzle, sprinkle, and munch away! 

 Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried (or will be trying) this recipe! Can’t wait to see what you bake up 🙂 

-A