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Whisk egg whitesFollowing on from last week's recipe for Pavlova as promised I am covering meringue for the next few weeks. Why a few weeks? Because there are many types of meringue, many techniques and many recipes that go along with them. Each meringue has its own unique properties and as will be seen, there is really no such thing as one meringue that fits all! The main types of meringue are:

  • French meringue
    French meringue has a light delicate texture, a melt in the mouth feel and perfect for delicate deserts.
  • Swiss meringue
    Swiss meringue has a firmer texture than French meringue so it is perfect for making decorations or bases for desserts. It is made over a bain-marie by whisking the whites and sugar together until it reaches a temperature of 38ºC (100ºF) then removing it from the bain-marie and continuing to whisk until it is completely cold.
  • Italian meringue
    Italian meringue is much more complex and requires boiling sugar and water until it reaches the soft ball stage (115ºC). This type of meringue is good for making cassatas, baked Alaska and some butter creams.

Seems so simple now but who would have first thought to whisk egg whites? If it comes to that why and how was the whisk invented? It all had to start somewhere after all. History tells us that meringue was first created in 1720 by a Swiss pastry cook called Gasparini and later the French and Italians adopted it and adapted it to their own style of cooking - it was enjoyed by both Royalty and common folk alike.

Along with all the different types of meringue there are also many desserts that can be made from them, such as

  • Meringue glacé
  • Vacherin
  • Dacquoise
  • Oeufs a la neige

But to make any of these, a successful meringue must be achieved - tips on successfully whisking egg whites.

Each week, I will give you a follow up recipe suggesting a way that the basic meringue can be used. This week it's the turn of the French meringue and Snow eggs or Oeufs a la neige. Join me in the following weeks for


French meringue because of the icing sugar has a delicate texture and a melt in the mouth property perfect for delicate deserts: piping out and baking into shells for decoration, joining together with cream or piping into nests to fill with ice cream, sorbet or fresh fruits.

Ingredients for French Meringue

castor sugar
egg whites
icing sugar

How to make French Meringue

  • Whisk the whites to stiff peaks

  • Whisk in the castor sugar a little at a time for 10 minutes; the mixture should be smooth and shiny

  • Gradually and gently fold in the icing sugar with a slotted spoon

  • Pipe out into immediately required shapes, on a silicon mat, silicon paper or a lightly oiled tray

  • Bake at 100°C for 100 minutes

OEUF A LA NEIGE (also known as: Floating Islands)

We have all, at sometime burnt the cake we were going to serve for dessert, Well this is a great dessert for keeping up one's sleeve when you need to produce something impressive in a hurry! The name literally translates from the French as Snow Eggs.

For this dessert you will need some French meringue mix as above (up to and including stage #3) and some nice fresh egg custard sauce (Crème Anglaise).

  • In a thick based, open pan, bring some milk (or a water and sugar syrup) to a gentle simmer

  • Gently shape the meringue into quenelles (rugby ball shapes) with two dessert spoons or two large slotted spoons (depending on the size you want)

  • Place them into the simmering milk and poach the quenelles for 2-3 minutes turning them every 30 seconds

  • Remove from the pan, drain them and put them to one side

  • Continue until finished

To serve

  • Pour a layer of the warm custard onto a plate (or fill a nice dessert bowl )

  • Place / float 2 - 3 poached quenelles per portion onto it

  • Serve with some lightly toasted, sliced almonds sprinkled over the top

  • A little berry sauce and sprig of mint or angelica will add that splash of colour

Enjoy and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com