Meringue is basically whipped egg whites and sugar. It is a simple yet elegant topping for pies and tarts or may stand alone as a delicate dessert. A perfect meringue is light, airy and crispy all at once. The shell should have a light crunch while the inside is soft, chewy and almost marshmallow-like in consistency. Accomplishing and keeping the shell crisp is the trickiest step in making meringue. Keeping your meringue shells crispy and delicious is all about proper preparation and baking techniques.
Check the weather before you begin baking. It may seem odd but the weather can have a dramatic effect on your meringues. Dampness and humidity in the air will result in sticky, limp meringues that lack the crisp outer shell you desire. Postpone baking if the day is shaping up to be humid and wait for a dry day instead.
Measure your ingredients precisely to achieve the perfect composition for crispness. The standard ratio for crunchy shells is 1/4-cup granulated sugar per egg white. Ensure your recipe is adhering to this important rule of thumb. This amount of sugar is necessary to create crispness in the final product. Mix the sugar thoroughly to avoid grittiness.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Meringues require low heat to slowly evaporate the moisture in the meringue batter. If the oven temperature is too high, the moisture will be drawn out too quickly, resulting in dry meringues. Bake for approximately 60 minutes or until the tips of the meringues are golden brown then remove.
Refrain from opening the oven door to check up on the progress of your meringues during the final half of the baking time. This may crack the meringue shells, leaving you with less-than-perfect meringues.