Meringue

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Meringue (pronounced /məˈræŋ/[1]) is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. Some meringue recipes call for adding a binding agent such as cream of tartar or the cornstarch found in confectioner's sugar. Meringues are often flavoured with vanilla and a small amount of almond or coconut extract. They are light, airy and sweet.

Contents

History

The notion that meringue was invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen[2] by an Italian chef named Gasparini is contested. It is more probable that the name meringue for this confection first appeared in print in François Massialot's cookbook of 1692.[3] The word meringue first appeared in English in 1706 in an English translation of Massialot's book. Two considerably earlier seventeenth-century English manuscript books of recipes give instructions for confections that are recognizable as meringue, though called "white biskit bread" in the book of recipes started in 1604 by Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 - c. 1647) of Appleton in Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire),[4] or called "pets" in the manuscript of collected recipes written by Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 - 1680), of Knole, Kent.[5] Slowly baked meringues are still referred to as "pets" (meaning farts in French) in the Loire region in France due to their light and fluffy texture.[6]

Type of meringue

There are several types of meringue, the sweetened, uncooked beaten egg whites that form the "islands" of Floating Island (also known in French as île flottante), the partly cooked toppings of lemon meringue pie and other meringue-topped desserts, and the classic dry featherweight meringue. Different preparation techniques produce these results.

  • French meringue is the method best known to home cooks. Fine white sugar is beaten into egg whites.
  • Italian meringue is made with boiling sugar syrup, instead of caster sugar. This leads to a much more stable soft meringue which can be used in various pastries without collapsing. In an Italian meringue, a hot sugar syrup is whipped into softly whipped egg whites till stiff. This type of meringue is safe to use without cooking. It will not deflate for a long while and can be either used on pies and Baked Alaska, or spread on a sheet and baked for meringues.
  • Swiss meringue is whisked over a bain marie to warm the egg whites, and then whisked steadily until it cools. It is then baked.

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