AskDefine | Define meringue

Dictionary Definition

meringue n : sweet topping especially for pies made of beaten egg whites and sugar

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A mixture consisting of beaten eggwhites and sugar which is added to the tops of pies then browned.
    The key to a good Baked Alaska is the meringue topping.
  2. A shell of beaten egg whites with sugar which serves as the receptacle for fruit, icecream or sherbert.
    Shirley particularly likes to have strawberry with her meringue.

Derived terms


  • Finnish: marenki
  • Spanish: merengue

Extensive Definition

Meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and caster sugar. Some meringue recipes call for adding a binding agent such as cream of tartar or the cornstarch found in confectioner's sugar. Meringues are often flavoured with vanilla and a small amount of almond or coconut extract. They are very light and airy and extremely sweet. The notion that meringue was invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen by an Italian chef named Gasparini is contended. It is more certain that the name meringue for this confection first appeared in print in François Massialot's cookbook of 1692. The word meringue first appeared in English in 1706 (OED) in an English translation of Massialot's book. Two considerably earlier seventeenth-century English manuscript books of recipes give instructions for confections that are recognizable as meringue, though called "white biskit bread" in the book of receipts started in 1604 by Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 - c. 1647) of Appleton in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), or called "pets" in the manuscript of collected recipes written by Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 - 1680), of Knole, Kent.

Type of Meringue

There are several types of meringue, the sweetened, uncooked beaten eggwhites that form the "islands" of Floating Island, the partly cooked toppings of Lemon meringue pie and other meringue-topped desserts, and the classic dry featherweight meringue. Several techniques produce these results: that used by most home cooks is known as a 'French meringue', and is described below. An 'Italian meringue' is made with boiling sugar syrup, instead of caster sugar. This leads to a much more stable soft meringue which can be used in various pastries without collapsing. A 'Swiss meringue' is whisked over a bain marie to warm the eggwhites, and then whisked steadily until it cools. It is then baked. This recipe is often used for Pavlova bases.
When egg whites are beaten, some of the hydrogen bonds in the protein break, causing the protein's structure to unfold. This change in structure leads to the stiff consistency required for meringues.
Typically, two whipped egg whites and 113g (4oz) of caster sugar are what compose a single batch cooked meringue.
When beating egg whites, they are classified in three stages according to the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: soft, medium, and stiff peaks.
In an Italian meringue, a hot sugar syrup is whipped into softly whipped egg whites till stiff. This type of meringue is safe to use without cooking. It will not deflate for a long while and can be either used on pies and Baked Alaska, or spread on a sheet and baked for meringues.
Meringues used like cookies are baked at a very low heat for a long time. One name for them is "Forgotten Cookies" as they can be left in a gas oven for long periods of time after the cooking is done. They are not supposed to be "tanned" at all, but they need to be very crisp and dry. Cooked meringue cannot be refrigerated or it will become soggy. They will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container.
Meringue can be used as the basis for various other desserts including angel food cake, pavlova, Baked Alaska, Queen of Puddings, Key lime pie, and lemon meringue pie. In these cases, the meringue may be cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, resulting in a soft meringue with slightly browned peaks on top.

See also

meringue in Danish: Marengs
meringue in German: Baiser
meringue in Spanish: Merengue (alimento)
meringue in French: Meringue
meringue in Italian: Meringa
meringue in Hebrew: מקצפת
meringue in Dutch: Schuimpje
meringue in Japanese: メレンゲ (菓子)
meringue in Norwegian: Marengs
meringue in Polish: Beza
meringue in Portuguese: Suspiro (doce)
meringue in Russian: Меренга (кулинария)
meringue in Finnish: Marenki
meringue in Swedish: Maräng
meringue in Turkish: Beze

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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