Meringue sticks, shards and drops are great for decorating desserts, cakes or just as a topping for ice creams. Learn how to make three types of Meringue decorations with this easy step by step recipe for guaranteed success!
Making meringues is fairly easy, that is if you have the passion and time for it. They are baked at 80 degrees and dried for at least 2 hours or overnight. Yes, they do take time and maybe a bit of ‘know how‘ too but you don’t have to be a pastry chef to be able to make meringue at home.
There are many recipes out there for ‘how to make meringues’. Some, with just a few ingredients, while others with more. Sometimes the sugar gets added as a warm syrup, other times the egg whites are beaten over a water bath.
Most probably you already have your favourite meringue recipe but now you are looking for some new ideas of how to use them. And that’s why you are here!
Knowing how to make different shapes of meringues, is not only fun but it can take your desserts to the next level, so let’s get to it!
WHAT SHOULD A MERINGUE BE LIKE
Perfect meringues should be cream-white in colour, pleasantly sweet, airy light and crumbly–crunchy.
Many mistakes can happen when making meringue, some with fatal consequences. The egg whites can overwhip and loose water while baking or the meringues can collapse after having been baked. And in some cases they can be extremely dry on the outside and undercooked in the centre.
Mastering meringues comes with years of experience. I definitely had my share of failures! That’s why, it is important to thoroughly read the instruction before starting.
SHORT HISTORY OF MERINGUE
Meringue was invented in the 15th century and is known to come from a Swiss town called ‘Meiringen’. Years later, meringue was made popular by the Italian and French sweet makers.
Apparently, the French King, Louis XV was extremely fond of meringues. The French however call them ‘baiser’ which means kiss, referring to them being light and airy just like a sweet kiss!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE MERINGUE
Meringue is made with just a few ingredients. Even though there are many different ways of making them, I have always stuck to these few basic ingredients listed below:
Egg whites using fresh egg whites is a given. But how fresh do they really have to be? Some pastry chefs claim, that they get best results with egg whites that have been stored in the fridge for at least 2 days. Think of all the egg whites left when you made that tiramisu recipe or the citrus curd yesterday. Don’t be afraid to use them up for your meringues.
Most important, there should be no egg yolk traces left in the whites!
Sugar I use normal caster sugar for this recipe. Don’t swap with icing sugar! The main point to look out for, is that the sugar completely melts into the egg whites while beating. Otherwise, it will change the outcome of your meringues.
Vanilla essence I always add vanilla essence in my recipe. The vanilla essence I use for my meringues is of highest quality and thick in texture. Be careful not to add too much, as it can change the colour of the meringues.
Other ingredients you could add: lemon myrtle, cocoa powder, spices, colourings, nuts.
HOW TO MAKE MERINGUE
If you have made our Quince Tart and have read the recipe carefully, you know how I feel about making meringues! The method I use, is straight forward and fail proof in my opinion.
While in most recipes, the sugar is added slowly after the egg whites have been whipped for sometime, in our easy recipe for meringue, we whip all ingredients from the beginning. It works every time!
Lighter than air, remarkably crunchy, these meringues can be enjoyed on their own or used as dessert decorations
It’s that simple and this is exactly what we intend to do. Here are the steps involved:
Measure the ratio of egg whites to sugar and vanilla essence.
Use a hand blender or kitchen aid (wish I had one!!) and mix on low.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved, gradually increase the speed to high.
Check the consistency of the meringue, by holding up the whisk attachment. The mixture should be stiff.
Rub a small amount between your fingers, it should be sticky without any grains from the sugar.
MAKING MERINGUE DROPS
Also called meringue ‘kisses’. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle attachment. Pipe meringue drops onto the pastry sheet, leaving enough space between them.
Bake in the oven at 80 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the door closed for at least 2 hours, best overnight to dry them out completely.
AS A NOTE: I like to seperate the eggs straightaway after taking them out of the fridge! While they are still cold, it is much easier to seperate them and you also avoid the risk of any egg yolk traces in your whites.
Leave the egg whites out for 30 minutes after separating as they are easier to work with at room temperature.
MAKING MERINGUE SHARDS
Meringue shards are thin layers of crispy meringue that can be used for decorating desserts or just eaten as a snack. Some also call these ‘barks’ or ‘icicles’!
Meringue shards became popular amongst Chefs in fine dining restaurants, to use as delicate decorations to bring sophistication to the plate. Plus they were inexpensive and not that difficult to make.
Follow the recipe below for making meringue. Now to make shards, place a pastry mat or baking paper on a flat oven tray or rack. Using a long pastry spatula, spread the meringue mixture on the pastry sheet as thin as possible.
Bake the same way as the meringue drops.
MAKING MERINGUE STICKS
Meringue sticks, also called ‘batons’ are created by piping the meringue mixture on a baking tray in thin lines and then baked the same way as the meringue kisses and shards.
If you are worried about the thinness, don’t be because they don’t have to be that thin. You can pipe the mixture to the size of a grissini stick, it all depends on what you intend to use them for.
WHY ARE MY EGG WHITES COLLAPSING?
When egg whites have been over whipped, they will loose water and the meringues will collapse. Another reason could be, there are traces of grease left in your bowl or whisk. Make sure all the utensils and tools you use, are non greasy and dry beforehand.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE MERINGUES ARE DONE?
When the meringues have baked for the time given in the recipe, open the door of the oven. Try to lift a meringue gently, it should come off the baking sheet easily and not stick to your fingers.
HOW BEST TO STORE MERINGUES?
Store meringues in an air tight container, at room temperature, away from moisture. You can keep them for up to two weeks. In case they turn soft, bake them again in the oven for ten minutes at 80 degrees.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make this easy recipe for meringue. Put what you learnt to practice by whipping up a batch of these homemade meringue decorations for your next dinner party! We would love to know how your meringue turned out!
If you are looking for more drool-worthy desserts, then head to our dessert section😉. We guarantee you will find something to soothe that sweet tooth of yours!
Meringue Decorations for Garnish and Plating
- piping bag with round and star shaped nozzle attachments
- oven trays or racks
- pastry mats or baking paper
- pastry spatula
- hand mixer or kitchen aid
- 3 egg whites
- 200 grams caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar and vanilla essence.
- Use a hand blender or kitchen aid, with the whisk attachment and mix on low.
- Once the sugar has completely dissolved, gradually increase the speed to high.
- Check the consistency of the meringue by holding up the whisk attachment. The mixture should be stiff. Rub a small amount between your fingers, it should be sticky without any grains from the sugar.
to make meringue drops
- Place the mixture in a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle attachment. Pipe meringue drops onto to the pastry sheet leaving enough space between them.
- Bake in the oven at 80 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the door closed for at least 2 hours, best overnight to dry them out completely.
- To check if they are done, try to lift a meringue gently. It should come off the baking sheet easily and not stick to your fingers.
to make meringue shards
- Place a pastry mat or baking paper on a flat oven tray or rack. Use a long pastry spatula and spread the meringue mixture on the pastry sheet as thin as possible. Bake the same way as you did the meringue drops.
- Once the meringue has cooked and dried, using a small knife or spatula, seperate the meringue shard from the pastry mat. Slowly lift the meringue shard and break into desired sizes.
to make meringue sticks
- Meringue sticks are created by piping the meringue mixture on a baking tray in thin lines and then baked as in the steps before. The sticks don't have to be that thin. You can pipe the mixture to the size of a grissini stick, it all depends what you intend to use them for.
- Seperate the eggs straight away after taking them out of the fridge, while they are still cold. It is much easier to separate and you avoid risking egg yolks running into your whites.
- Leave the whites out for 30 minutes as they are easier to work with at room temperature.
- Store leftover meringues in an air tight container, at room temperature, away from moisture. You can keep them for up to two weeks. In case they turn soft, bake them again for 10 minutes in the oven at 80 degrees.