For a seemingly simple topping—after all, it contains just three ingredients—meringue is not something that can be easily whipped up by the novice baker. Temperatures must be exact, equipment needs to be scrupulously clean and the technique takes some getting used to. This holiday season, impress your guests (and yourself!) by creating the perfect meringue topping to complete your beautiful homemade pies.
The easiest part of the process is getting your ingredients ready to go. You’ll need egg whites, sugar and a dash of pure vanilla extract. The egg whites need to be at room temperature, and the sugar should be super-fine. For every egg white, you’ll need one-quarter cup of sugar. Vanilla extract is optional, but it does provide for a sweeter-tasting meringue.
Place egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Find a pot or pan that the mixing bowl can tightly fit in. Boil about an inch of water in the pan, then reduce to a simmer. Once simmering, place the bowl of egg whites and sugar over simmering water. Constantly stir until the egg whites and sugar are no longer transparent — this should take about five minutes. Check the temperature a few times during the five minutes; it should not go higher than 160 degrees.
Place the mixing bowl back onto mixer and begin whisking on medium speed. Add the vanilla about halfway through. The meringue is done once stiff peaks have formed. You can whisk by hand if you don’t have a mixer, but it will take longer and it does require some strength, so be prepared!
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