Just looking at this post has me drooling of the possibilities that could come from mastering the skill of making Italian Meringue. You all are in luck today because Marnely is here from Cooking with Books and she is going to teach us all to become Italian Meringue magicians! Take it away Marnely...
Today I'll be talking to you about magic. Yes, magic. Not the kind Chris Angel pretends to do, or what you read about in the Harry Potter books. This magic is something you can do in your own kitchen, with simple ingredients and tools. The Magic of Italian Meringue is what I am talking about and once you make it, you too will feel the magic.
Meet the Egg. The Egg has been my fellow companion for years and I've always been a lover of the yolk. That soft boiled egg, that poached egg, that sunny side up egg all have one thing in common: yellow, sunny runny yolk that covers my plate. But I've never noticed the whites. I always laugh at those poor souls that ask for "egg white omelet". I wonder why they hate life and don't order yolks. An egg is 71 calories. If you can't consume 71 calories from an egg, you might as well not eat. Ever.
Enough of that, let's get down to business. How to transform runny, gloopy egg whites into luxurious, thick stark-white Italian Meringue. First, your egg whites: they MUST have no trace of egg yolk, so separate them with care. It's preferable to use older egg whites, as the protein strands in them are weaker and will make for more volume in your end product. You'll need a stand mixer (KitchenAid) or a hand mixer. I once made Italian Meringue by hand, with my balloon whisk. Outrageous and too much work. Make sure your bowl and whips are SUPER clean. Any presence of fat in them and your whites won't rise to their maximum potential.
Now that you have a clean bowl and 4 old egg whites. Let them sit out for a while, just to take the chill off them. This also improves the volume, so just crack, separate and leave out. Of course, common sense. If it's 100 degrees F in your kitchen, don't. You just want to take the chill off!
Let's now think sugar. Those raw egg whites won't get cooked by the mere action of whipping, so you're going to want to cook them somehow. Italian Meringue is cooked by the addition of sugar syrup cooked to 235-240F. You might want to use a candy thermometer. Place 1/3 cup of water and 12 ounces of sugar in a small saucepan and cook to 230F. Start whipping your whites, slowly when the sugar hits 230F. Turn up the speed to medium (your whites will be foamy/soft peak) and when your sugar is at 235, add it slowly into the running mixer. Don't start your whites too soon, they won't wait for anyone and will die.
MAGIC will start to happen. Those whites will be transforming. Help them transform by adding 4 tablespoons of sugar into them. Whisk, fast speed! Fast, Fast! You'll see it happening and smile. Flavor with lime zest, or vanilla paste or any extract you'd like. Color it if you want, but I honestly love the white meringue with just vanilla specks running through it. My mom likes to top it all off at the end with one tablespoon of confectioner's sugar. She says it gives it that extra ommph!
Now, what to do with a bowl full of Italian Meringue? Top cakes, pipe onto Lemon Pies or Tarts and then torch; fold into a flavored curd or custard like pastry cream and use as a light mousse dessert topped with berries. The possibilities are endless!
|Nut Covered Italian Meringue Cake -- Lemon Tart -- Tres Leches Cupcakes|
Impressed? Aren't you? Keep up with Marnely and all the food heaven she writes about:
Cooking with Books (blog)