Preparing the meringues at home might seem simple, there are only two ingredients and the time required is very little. However, you must be very careful with the cooking because it is very easy to burn them or cook them too much externally leaving the inside quite soft and not crunchy. Today I propose you the recipe for French meringues, with confectioner’s sugar and egg whites. The difference with Italian meringue is in how the egg whites are whipped. French meringue is mounted directly in the planetary mixer and has a faster process and cooking, while instead the Italian meringue needs sugar syrup and a pastry thermometer.
First of all, to make perfect home-made meringues you have to switch on the oven at a temperature of about 80/90 degrees. Then, blend the white sugar with the mixer to transform it in confectioner’s sugar.
Take a couple of eggs and separate the yolks from the whites, weigh the egg whites, you must have 70 grams of them. Blend them with an electric mixer. Do not make the mistake that many do and don’t add a pinch of salt to the eggs, this does not help to whip them but it rather separates the watery part from the proteins and makes the eggs collapse.
When will they be well whipped? Simple, you will notice that they will remain firm and compact.
At this point turn off the electric mixer, from here on the operation will proceed without it. Add the confectioner’s sugar a little at a time and amalgamate it with the whipped egg whites using a whisk, with a movement from top to bottom (to not make them collapse).
Continue until all the confectioner’s sugar has been amalgamated. At this point, take half of the mixture and place it in another bowl. Add the teaspoon of cocoa powder and blend it with the mixture, always with a whisk and always with movements from top to bottom.
Now, you have the two compounds. Take a sac a poche or a confectioner syringe (I prefer the syringe) and fill it with the "white" meringue mixture. Cover with baking paper a baking sheet, and put the mixture on it making small piles with the syringe mounted with a large star nozzle. Do the same with the cocoa mixture.
Fill up a whole baking sheet.
At this point you can bake it in a hot oven for about two hours, carefully putting a spoon (which has not a wooden or plastic handle, it must be a steel spoon) to block the oven door (as you can see in the picture), in this way the moisture of the meringues during cooking will completely evaporate and they will not collapse. Then you will have light, crispy and firm meringues. Speaking of cooking times, consider that you will probably need two hours but anyway check also after an hour and a half, because they could be ready, remember that the meringues should not be darkened.
Pull them out of the oven, and let them cool. You can preserve them for some days in a tin box stored in a dark and dry place.
If you want to simplify everything and prepare the meringues more quickly you can buy the confectioner’s sugar at the supermarket.
As you can see in this recipe, meringues can also be made by adding cocoa powder to the dough. Other delicious alternatives are meringues with cinnamon, hazelnuts (reduced to flour) or pistachio powder. The meringues can be tasted as they are or used in some pastry preparations such as the meringue cake or the white mountain cake (a dessert made with marron glacé, meringues and cream). In this case, the meringues will be crushed in the whipped cream to form the crispy part of the recipe.