Italian Meringue is an essential component of several confections so it’s important to master it. For example it can be used in mouse, frozen desserts and buttercream to add lightness, creaminess and for frozen desserts to inhibit the formation of crystals which can make them gritty.
The ratio for Italian Meringue is about 1/4 cup of sugar to each egg white and enough water to moisten the sugar (I have substituted liquid glucose for up to 50 % of the sugar in a given recipe with great results). For the Italian Meringue, one makes a syrup and pours it over softly whipped egg whites then beat until cool. Sounds simple? It is with some practice.
Italian Meringue is a bit tricky until you get the rhythm. The syrup and the egg whites have to be ready at the same time because neither will wait for the other. One must pour 240 degree farenheit syrup (soft ball) on egg whites that have been beaten to soft peaks. One has to pour the syrup between the wisk and the bowl while the motor is running if using a stand mixer. If syrup is poured on the beaters it splatters to the side and not enough gets incorporated into the whites. If you syrup is poured down the side of the bowl it hardens on the bowl and not enough gets mixed into the whites. If either of those things happen, your meringue won’t be stable and the texture won’t be correct.
There is another technique that I used before I got a nasty burn that sent me to the emergency room. The technique involves beating the whites to soft peaks in a stand mixer, then stopping the machine and tilting the mixer head back to pour in a little syrup, then putting the mixer head down and beating the whites like mad, then repeating until the syrup is gone. At one point the lip of my pan collided with the mixer head on its way up or down, I can’t quite remember through the tears and the pain, and the collision sent a wave of boiling sugar syrup over the fleshy part of my thumb. I grabbed some Aloe Vera out of the fridge and lubed up my hand while I finished the butter cream. Then off I went to the ER. I am not a fan of this technique.
With the technique I developed for my clumsy self, I beat the whites until the meringue is at soft peaks and the sugar syrup is 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I quickly take the bowl from under the stand mixer and switch to a hand held beater with wisk attachment. I find it easier to get the syrup between the wisk and the bowl with a hand mixer. Once I’ve poured the sugar syrup and beaten the whites a bit, I move the bowl back to the stand mixer and finish beating until cool. I use what I need and freeze the rest. It will maintain its texture for about a week. Make sure you defrost it before you use it.
Italian Meringue ( makes about 380 grams)
- 120 grams (4) room temperature large egg whites
- 160 grams (1/2 cup) glucose
- 100 Grams (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
- 90 grams (6 Tablespoons) water
- Pinch of salt
- Set aside four tablespoons of sugar.
- In a small saucepan, combine the remaining sugar, and water. Cook over low heat, swirling the pan by the handle from time to time until the sugar dissolves and liquid is clear.
- Add glucose and swirl pan by handle until glucose dissolves. Turn flame on to high and continue to cook, without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water, until syrup reaches a temperature of 210 Fahrenheit.
- While syrup is cooking beat egg whites and salt in a stand mixer at medium speed. When whites become opaque and begin to mount, slowly add the 4 tablespoons of sugar that you set aside and continue to beat.
- When syrup reaches 230 F degrees increase mixer speed to high and beat egg whites to soft peaks.
- When syrup reaches 240 F immediately remove from heat and detach thermometer. Switch to a hand mixer with wisk attachment and beat at medium speed, drizzle syrup onto the whites. Making sure not to put syrup on the side of the bowl or the beaters.
- Switch back to the stand mixer, increase speed to high and beat until cool and the egg whites form a stiff glossy peaks.