Ahh, French meringue cookies. Every time I make them I chastise myself for not making them more often. They are such a lovely treat and really are more forgiving than people give them credit for.
Many people think of making a meringue and automatically assume that it is hard. Let me assure you that it is not hard at all, with one caveat: if you do not have an electric mixer, it will be very hard on your arm. It takes a long time to get the egg whites to stiff peak stage – and that’s with an electric mixer.
French meringue cookies come is every size and shape. It is really all left up to the desires of the cook. I have made many different types for different uses:
- Small “kiss” sized ones for serving after dinner
- Cookie sized shapes to eat straight from the container for a sweet snack
- Larger ones with an indentation in the middle to serve with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of fruit preserves
- I have even created thin sheets of meringue to act as a crispy, melt in your mouth base for other desserts
The Basic Meringue Ratio
French meringue cookie recipes are actually a simple ratio of egg whites to sugar. Anything else is really just optional additions. The basic ratio is 1 Part Egg White to 2 Parts Sugar. So, if you have 125 grams of egg whites you would use 250 grams of sugar.
That ratio is by weight, not by volume. For those without a scale, each large egg contains about 30 g of egg white. The recipe below calls for 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar and about four large egg whites.
When whipping egg whites, it is important not to over beat them. This can happen, especially when you are beating to the stiff peak stage. Adding a stabilizer can help prevent over beating. The most common stabilizers are:
- Cream of Tartar
I like to use cream of tartar, but vinegar is just as effective. When I do use vinegar, I just use regular white vinegar.
Crispy vs Chewy Meringue
The great debate is whether meringue cookies should be crispy or chewy. Traditional meringues are dry throughout. The dryness actually creates the melt in your mouth texture. I prefer dry and crispy meringue cookies.
All meringues are crispy on the outside. The texture of the inside is determined by the oven temperature and the length of time the meringues cook for.
- Chewy Meringue: Cook at a higher temperature (ie 300 °F) for shorter time (ie 30 minutes).
- Drier Meringue: Cook at lower temperature (ie 200 – 250 °F) for longer time (ie 1 hour).
- When you are done baking, all meringues need to rest in the oven to cool for at least one hour. Simply turn off the oven and let it cool down naturally. This prevents the meringues from cooling too quickly and then cracking
I have found that my preferred temperature and timing is 250 °F for 1 hour. This works for “kiss” sized and cookie sized meringues. If I were to make them larger, I would just increase the baking time to 1.5 hours.
The beauty is that you can find your perfect temperature and time and they will come out great every time.
What Sugar Should I Use
Most recipes recommend using “Super Fine” sugar (also known as Berry or Caster Sugar).
Regular granulated sugar will also work, but will take a lot of mixing to get the larger granules to completely dissolve in the egg whites. If you do not have super fine sugar, a blender or food processor can be used to grind granulated sugar a bit finer.
We have tried using just “Powdered Sugar” (also known as Confectioner’s Sugar, and Icing Sugar). It got mixed reviews, some not even noticing a difference. We recommend using super fine sugar or a combination of super fine and icing sugar. If you choose to do this, mix 50% super fine sugar with 50% powdered sugar, before adding it to the whipped egg whites.
Flavouring the Meringue
This recipe will create lovely vanilla flavoured meringue. But, you can flavour it in many different ways.
Flavouring your meringue can be done with liquid extracts such as vanilla, almond, etc. Just be careful how much you add. Extracts have a high water content, which can cause problems for your meringue.
Powdered flavorings are available that will add flavour without extra liquid.
An excellent option for flavouring a meringue is to add cocoa powder or instant espresso powder. These flavourings can be combined with the sugar. This mixture is then added to the eggs as per the recipe.
If you want to create colourful meringues, “Gel” food colouring is the way to go. Regular liquid food colouring usually does not work very well because so much is needed to even add a hint of colour. That much extra liquid can easily ruin your meringue.
Add any liquid flavouring at the end of the mixing process.
If you want to add an extra something to your meringues, feel free to sprinkle toppings on them just before baking.
- Dried fruit
- Finely chopped nuts
- Dried coconuts
- Chocolate chips
Storing Baked Meringues Cookies
The best place to store baked meringue cookies is in an airtight container, either in the fridge, pantry or freezer. Although the fridge is a humid environment, your meringues will not be affected as long as the container used is airtight.
The biggest enemy of meringues is moisture, as that will essentially dissolve the sugar and destroy the structure. If you can keep them in an airtight container, you can store your fresh meringues for up to two weeks before they start getting stale.
Freezing baked meringues is also a great option. Since meringues are fragile, use a hard-sided freezer safe container to store them.
To thaw, allow to sit on the counter for several hours.
Leftover French Meringue “Batter”
So, you’ve made the perfect French meringue batter and are ready to spoon it out onto cookie sheets to bake. But, you have made too much. What will happen to the left over batter?
Unbaked French meringue does not have a very long shelf life, measured in hours instead of days. If you find you have leftover batter, place in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Use it as soon as possible, preferably once you are done with any batches currently baking.
The best way to avoid this is to just make smaller batches of batter and make more when you need it.
GET MORE INFORMATION
- Watch a video about whipping egg whites.
- Learn more about different types of meringues
- View our egg storage infographic
French Meringue Cookies
|Servings||Prep/Cook Time||Passive Time|
|48 Cookies||60 minutes||1 Hour|
- Salt is completely optional in this recipe. I find that it helps bring out the flavour of the vanilla.
- If you do not have cream of tartar, 1/2 Teaspoon of vinegar is also a great stabilizer.
- It is possible to make a meringue without a stabilizer, but the stabilizer helps to prevent over beating the egg whites.
- Make sure that you whip the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl. Plastic bowls can harbour oils and odours, which can ruin the meringue.
- 125 grams (4 Large) Room Temperature Egg Whites
- 250 grams (1 1/4 Cups) Super Fine Sugar
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
- Pinch Salt