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 about the same time, keeping in mind that the syrup can wait a minute if it’s taken off the heat. One must pour 235-238 degree farenheit syrup (soft ball) on egg whites that have been beaten to soft peaks. One has to pour the syrup down the side of the bowl while avoiding the wisk, 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 that happens your meringue won’t be stable and the texture won’t be correct.
Here is the secret, finally revealed. The key is to use a pan with a lip (not a spout which would project too far in to the bowl and risk getting the syrup on the wisk). Place the lip of the pan just on the edge of the bowl and tilt the pot to get a slow but steady stream of syrup down the side of the bowl. It will go straight down without hitting the wisk.
ITALIAN MERINGUE ( makes about 380 grams)
- 120 grams (4) room temperature large egg whites
- 260 grams superfine sugar (for semi freddo I substitute 160 grams of glucose for 160 grams of the sugar).
- 90 grams (6 Tablespoons) water (the water should just cover the sugar).
- Pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan, pour in the sugar and then enough water to cover the sugar. Draw an X on the bottom of the pan through the sugar. Cook over medium heat until syrup reaches a temperature of 235 Fahrenheit.
- While syrup is cooking beat egg whites and salt in a stand mixer at slow speed ( speed 2 on a kitchenaid ). 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 235 F take the pot of the heat and increase mixer speed to 10 and beat egg whites to soft peaks.
- Place lip of pan right on the edge of the bowl and tip pan so you get a slow but steady stream of sugar syrup running down the side of the pan.
- increase speed to high (10 on a kitchenaid) and beat until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch cool and the egg whites form firm glossy peaks. You’ll know it’s done when the bowl is cool to your hand, bits of meringue are spit onto the side of the bowl.
Once the meringue is cool it is ready to be used.