A new way to make Swiss meringue

 Italian meringue

Meringue is a pastry kitchen staple. Not only is it good as a topping for pie, it’s also the foundation for many other sweets, including pavlova, macarons, and buttercream icing. There are three basic types of meringue: French, Italian, and Swiss. Pastry chef Stella Parks (aka bravetart) explains the difference between them and tells us why we should rethink Swiss meringue.

The difference between the types of meringue involves the type of heat and how the sugar is added. In a basic (French) meringue, the raw egg whites are beaten until foamy, then the sugar is added slowly to form a delicate, light product. While the easiest type of meringue to make, French meringue is the most fragile and the most prone to overbeating. Italian meringue also begins by beating raw egg whites, but the sugar takes the form of hot syrup that is added to the whites, resulting in a silky, dense meringue. It’s the most stable, but it can also be a pain to make and it’s not as fluffy as the French variety. 

Swiss meringue, by contrast, involves heating the egg whites with sugar (usually over a double boiler) until warm, then beating the mixture until it is light and fluffy. The benefits of this process are that it is easier than Italian meringue and less prone to overbeating than French meringue. The downside of the traditional Swiss meringue is that it’s neither as stable as the Italian version nor as light as the French type. But Parks has a solution that solves both problems and results in a meringue that is smooth, silky, and light. 

The secret, says Parks, “is to cook the Swiss meringue all the way up to 175°F (79°C) and whip at the highest speed possible.” She provides a video to show the process, and explains the science behind her improved Swiss meringue. Parks also recommends using lightly toasted sugar to add more flavor to the meringue. 

Photo of Basic Italian meringue from indexed blog Serious Eats

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