Ever fancied a meringue? As a little kid, I was highly mesmerized by these stiff, airy, sweet treats that gradually dissolved in my mouth. Fast forward to nowadays, I was very happy upon encountering cakes that use meringue as their topping. The softer version to be precise, as it resembles more of a melted marshmallow or whipped cream. Turns out, they’re both validly classified as meringues, just slightly different based on where they come from: France, Italy, or Switzerland. Here’s a detailed look on types of meringue:
Considered the basic meringue, they’re crisp and airy as the result of low and slow baking of a whipped mixture of egg whites and castor sugar. Mixture-wise, French meringue is considered to be the least stable compared to other versions. However, it’s also the lightest. The stiff airy version I mentioned earlier? That’s French meringue. One of the most known forms of French meringue is macarons. Imagine the decadence of chocolate macarons, made by mixing chocolate powder in the batter, then filled with chocolate ganache. Yummy.
A more stable version of the French one is made by substituting castor sugar with hot sugar syrup. The result is whipped cream that can hold its shape better, and thus can be used for various pastries without collapsing. Due to the process, which involves hot sugar syrup, Italian meringue is also safe to use as pie decoration without cooking. Among the most common uses of Italian meringue are mousse and cake frosting.
The fluffier version of Italian meringue, with the same stability. It’s created by constantly warming the egg whites until it thickens and reaches a certain degree. Off the heat, it’s then whisked until it cools and becomes stiff and glossy. It forms a dense, marshmallow-like consistency and is usually baked as the final step. Swiss meringue most commonly serves as the base of buttercream frostings, cookies, and pies.
Other than the previous three, there’s also the vegan meringue made using aquafaba or potato protein. Agar-agar is also a good ingredient. Visually, vegan meringue looks similar to egg-based ones, just that it burns rather quickly upon mishandling during baking. Thus, extra caution is needed.
While egg whites and sugar are the most common meringue ingredients, additional ingredients are usually added for different purposes. Some are acidic in nature, like lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar. They help the meringue foam to become more stable.
Other ingredients commonly added are binding agents like flour, salt, or even gelatin, which also help in maintaining the stability, though through different chemical reactions.
Cornstarch is also considered a good addition as it helps to tame the hot, humid weather by absorbing the extra moisture in the meringue foam, which is a common issue with meringue-making in tropical islands like Indonesia.
In place of castor sugar, palm sugar is also worth considering and it would give the meringue a unique Asian twist. Just make sure that it’s as smooth as the castor sugar if you want to make it French style, or else it would make a grainy foam and result in failed meringue. Otherwise, use palm sugar syrup and apply either the Italian or Swiss method.
The origin of meringue is suspected to be from a region in Switzerland called Meiringen, hence the name. Some other sources mentioned that the meringue was the invention of Italian pastry chef Gasparini in 18th century Switzerland.
Some historians, however, believe that meringue, instead is of Polish origin, hence the similarity with the Polish term marzynka, and created by the chefs under the reign of King Stanislaw Leszcyński.
Come explore other chocolate ingredients from Tulip Chocolate to get that tasty creamy chocolate flavor meringues. With our various selections of chocolate products, you can find your chocolate needs all in one place.
Which types of meringue do you like the most? Share with us in the comments.