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What Are the Different Types of Meringue Desserts?

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  • Written By: Steven Symes
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Meringue desserts can be served alone, like forgotten cookies, which are made of meringue that is baked in an oven at a low heat. Also, meringue desserts can be made in conjunction with other foods, such as the meringue topping on some pies or the baked meringue shell that covers baked Alaska. To add more variety to meringue desserts, a cook can add flavorings to the meringue mixture, using ingredients such as vanilla extract or cocoa powder before cooking the meringue, or drizzle syrups or fruits over the meringue once it has been cooked.

When meringues desserts are made, they can either be hard or soft. Changing the amount of time a meringue is cooked, as well as the cooking temperature, determines if the meringue is soft or hard. Hard meringue is crispy and dried out, instead of having the creamy texture of soft meringue desserts. Lowering the temperature and increasing the bake time produces a hard meringue, like what makes up forgotten cookies, which a cook might even leave in the oven overnight, after the oven has been shut off. Baking the meringue at a high temperature for a short period of time makes it soft, with browned ridges on the exterior of the meringue, like meringue toppings on pies or the meringue that covers the ice cream interior of forgotten Alaska.

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Three fundamental ways of creating meringue desserts exist, with each method coming from a different country of origin. French meringue is the easiest to make, since the cook combines egg whites and refined sugar, beating them until the mixture stiffens. Swiss meringue is also made of sugar and egg whites, which the cook whisks while heating the mixture in a bain marie or water bath on a stove top, stopping once the sugar dissolves completely. A cook makes Italian meringue by boiling sugar and water together, and then he combines the mixture with egg whites that he has already beaten until they have puffed up. The cook then whisks the egg whites and sugar syrup together until they stiffen.

The process of beating a meringue is essential to its formation, since doing so stretches out the protein molecules in the egg whites. Adding sugar is the key to allowing the meringue to keep its shape long-term, since the sugars make the egg whites stiff and hold their inflated form. The sugar that is combined with the meringues must dissolve completely before the meringue is cooked, otherwise it will have a grainy texture to it even after the meringue has been baked.

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Ivan83
Post 3
Any time I see baked Alaska on a dessert menu I order it. It can be really hit or miss, but when it is good it is amazing.

I have been disappointed to see that it is not nearly as common as it once was. There was a time when it was a staple along with chocolate cake and apple pie. Now it seems like something old fashioned. But it is still as delicious as ever. Let's hope that others figure this out too.

gravois
Post 2

My mother used to make amazing macaroons. They were mostly a holiday thing but occasionally we would come home from school and there would be a plate of them on the kitchen table.

I have eaten a lot of macaroons in my life but to this day have never had one as good as my mother made them. She was an artist of egg whites.

nextcorrea
Post 1

Lemon meringue pie is one of my all time favorite desserts. I have had delicious versions in restaurants and I also have a few recipes of my own. I only make it two or three times a year because I like to treat it as something special but when I do make it I go all out.

I buy organic eggs, nice lemons, make my own crust and go to any length to get a delicious, gourmet pie.

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