How to Make a Great Meringue

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  • 01 of 10

    Gather Your Ingredients and Equipment

    Meringue Ingredients
    Meringue Ingredients. Fiona Haynes

    To make meringue, you'll need egg whites, baker's (superfine) sugar, and cream of tartar. For every egg white called for in the recipe, you'll need 1/4 cup of sugar.

    Find a large copper, stainless steel, or glass mixing bowl, and make sure it's spotlessly clean. Plastic bowls can harbor grease, which will prevent the egg whites from forming stiff peaks.

    You'll need measuring spoons and measuring cups, and a small bowl or pitcher to place the egg whites before adding them individually to the mixing bowl. Having an interim bowl saves tossing all your egg whites if some egg yolk slips through.

    You could whisk your eggs by hand, but I don't recommend it. So use an electric mixer, and again, make sure the beaters are clean.

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  • 02 of 10

    Separate the Eggs

    Separating Eggs
    Separating Eggs. Fiona Haynes

    Slightly older eggs work best, by which I mean eggs that are a few days old. Eggs separate best when they are cold.

    There are various ways to separate eggs. You can use a little tool, as I do, or you can crack the shell and scoop the yolk from one-half to the other while letting the white slip through. The danger is that it's all too easy to puncture the yolk. Some people like to empty the yolk into their (clean) palms and let the white slip through. Do what works best for you.

    Make sure no yolk slips through. If it does, discard the white. For this reason, as I suggested in step one, it's best to separate the whites first into a small bowl, then transfer them one by one to the mixing bowl. That way, if one yolk does contaminate a white, only one of the batch is affected and you don't waste them all.

    Once the egg whites are separated, we'll want them to come to room temperature. This takes about 30 minutes. Room-temperature eggs will be more voluminous when beaten.

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  • 03 of 10

    Line a Cookie Sheet with Parchment

    Trace a circle on parchment
    Draw Circle on Parchment. Fiona Haynes

    Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and trace the edge of an 8-9-inch pie plate or tart pan in pencil.

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  • 04 of 10

    Beat Egg Whites to Soft-Peak Stage

    Beat egg white to the soft peak stage
    Beat Egg Whites to Soft Peaks. Fiona Haynes

    Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy, then add a 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Continue to beat until the soft-peak stage, which means the peaks will bend over as you remove the beaters.

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  • 05 of 10

    Add Sugar Tablespoon by Tablespoon

    Add Sugar Gradually to Egg Whites
    Add Sugar Gradually. Fiona Haynes

    Beat the egg whites at high speed, and add the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon. Allow each tablespoon to dissolve before adding the next. This is the most time-consuming part of making meringue. Superfine sugar works best for this. You'll need a 1/4 cup of sugar per egg, so 3/4 cup for 3 egg whites or a 1 cup for 4 egg whites.

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  • 06 of 10

    Beat Until Stiff Peaks Form

    Beating egg whites to the stiff-peak stage
    Beat Egg Whites until Stiff and Glossy. Fiona Haynes

    This is where some people have trouble. If there's any trace of fat or grease, it's almost impossible to get the egg whites to the stiff-peak stage. This is just one of a number of meringue mistakes that people make. So continue adding sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are stiff and glossy.

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  • 07 of 10

    Pile the Meringue on to the Parchment Paper

    Pile Meringue on to Parchment
    Pile Meringue on to Parchment. Fiona Haynes
    Using a clean spatula, pile the meringue on to the circle you drew on the parchment paper. Spread the meringue and leave the edges higher than the center.
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  • 08 of 10

    Bake in a Slow Oven

    Baked and Out of the Oven
    The Baked Meringue. Fiona Haynes

    Bake the meringue in a slow oven (most recipes suggest 250 degrees) for one hour. After that, switch off oven and leave the meringue in the oven for 2-3 hours to dry. Then remove from oven and allow to cool.

    Carefully separate the meringue from the parchment paper and store the meringue in an airtight container until ready to use.

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  • 09 of 10

    Topping Your Meringue

    Top with Fat-Free Whip and Fresh Fruit
    Top Meringue with Fat-Free Whip and Fresh Fruit. Fiona Haynes
    Top your meringue with fat-free whip, or softened low-fat frozen yogurt, and seasonal fresh fruit.
    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    You Made a Pavlova!

    A Low Fat Pavlova
    A Low Fat Pavlova. Fiona Haynes

    Congratulations, you made a pavlova!