Meringue is a fluffy dessert made mostly of whipped egg whites and sugar. This light and airy dessert can be made into cookies shaped like a blob of whipped cream with a pointy top, can top a cake, or can be made into eclair-like shape. Flavor such as vanilla or other additions such as almonds or coconut shavings can be added to this already sweet dessert. Although meringue is simple to make, you have to remember to whip the eggs well and to avoid moisture at all times. A drop of water may ruin a meringue's consistency.
Eggs can be either hand-whipped using a whisk or can be beaten electrically using an electric beater. A whisk is a kitchen utensil made of wire. It is used for beating food by hand using a light brushing or whipping motion. The whisk has a handle and attached to it is a bunch of wires which together form a rounded bottom. A mixer with beaters is plugged into a power outlet. The mixer has a handle and a body, to which two beaters are attached. These beaters are made up of rotary blades which spin quickly and beat the eggs.
How to Beat Eggs for Meringue
Beaten egg whites, with absolutely no traces of yolk, are the main component of meringue. Eggs should be at room temperature. Make sure your utensils, bowl and prepping area are dry without any grease or water. Avoid making meringues on humid or rainy days. Don't make meringues while cooking other dishes since the moisture produced by the cooking will prevent them to dry completely. Beat the egg whites using the whisk or beaters until soft peaks form and the eggs become fluffy yet smooth. Add a spoonful of sugar at a time while still whisking. The sugar will stabilize the meringue, causing it to form stiff peaks.
Whether you choose to use a whisk or beaters depends on personal preference. Beaters do the work for you since they quickly beat the eggs while you hold the beaters and spin them around the inside of the bowl. When using a whisk, you need to beat the eggs by hand and therefore some pressure needs to be applied. The consistency of the egg whites is exactly the same afterward.
Differences in Recipes
Both the beaters and the whisk must be completely dry and grease-free. If using beaters, you should start whisking at a slow speed for about a minute, then increase to medium for another minute and then on high until the meringue is finished. Move the beaters around the inside of the bowl without lifting them. Turn off the mixer and lift the beaters to check if the soft peaks have formed to tell if the meringue is ready. Then, add the sugar moving the beaters around the bowl. If using a whisk, start moving the whisk slowly around the bowl with your stronger hand, and increase the speed as the egg whites start to fluff. Stop whisking once the peaks start forming.
Aleksandra Ozimek has been writing professionally since 2007 for a fashion blog, various online media and the "Queens Courier," in addition to interning at "Cosmopolitan" magazine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in journalism and photography from St. John's University, where she is completing her master's degree.