Fashionable snowy meringue
The snowy meringue
There is something magical about beating unattractive egg whites with very fine sugar or icing sugar until they are transformed into glistening, snowy white peaks that can be swirled or piped to become a true culinary delight.
Meringues are one of the most beautiful and loved preparations among amateur and professional chefs alike.
And it is not surprising that the history of such a popular taste is based on, once again, more than one story about who invented or created the first magical meringue.
Who really invented the meringue?
It is widely held that the name meringue was originally meiringen, given to this preparation in 1720 by a Swiss chef called Gasparini, probably of Italian extraction, who was working in the town of Meiringen, and that the name was later changed by the French to meringue. The Swiss town of Meiringen on the other hand claims that Gasparini invented his recipe in the Berner Oberland around 1600, from where it travelled far afield, to the courts of Louis XV in France and Elizabeth I in England.
The first documentary evidence of the name meringue appeared in a French cookbook published in 1692 called Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, les liqueurs et les fruits written by the French chef François Massialot, in which Chapter 28 is devoted to Des Meringues & Macarons.
A favourite among the English
Wherever the name was first used officially, there is ample evidence to show that the preparation itself had been used for many years in Europe. Massialot’s book appeared in English in 1706, using the word meringue, but there are English manuscripts from a century earlier describing a preparation that is obviously a meringue. Eleanor Pool, who as Lady Fettiplace was responsible for running Appleton Manor in Gloucestershire, compiled a vast set of recipes and household management rules that were published in 1604.
In her Book of Receipts, a recipe for a meringue appeared under the title of ‘White Biskit Bread’. Some years later, in 1630, another female English aristocrat, eighteen-year-old Lady Rachael Fane, gave a recipe for a baked beaten egg white and sugar confection, which she called ‘Pets’ in her manuscript of collected recipes. Interestingly, each of her meringues contained a single caraway or coriander seed.
The meringue comes of age
By the end of the 18th century, under French influence, cooking was becoming much more sophisticated and the tradition of the great French chef was born. Antonin (or Marie-Antoine) Carême (1784-1833) was recognised as the greatest chef of his time and his fame spread quickly after publication of his 1815 book Le Pâtissier Royal Parisien.
Carême became famous for his confectionary skills and in particular for the lavish and elaborate designs he concocted for his desserts, notably for high-ranking clients such as European royalty and diplomats.
Meringues had traditionally been formed using two spoons, but Carême had the innovative idea of using a bag to pipe meringue and create the most magnificent desserts for his patisserie. The modest white biskit suddenly offered the possibility of being transformed into something that really was fit for a king or queen.
French, Italian or Swiss?
The uncertainty of the origins aside, the meringue recipe evolved into 3 leading variations, the French, the Swiss and the Italian meringue.
The French meringue is the one most people are familiar with. This uncooked version is the least stable but also has the lightest texture, which makes it perfect for soufflés.
Both Italian and Swiss slightly cook the egg whites during the process, making them suitable for piping onto pies and tarts, without an additional baking step. The Italian meringue is a silky, shiny, soft meringue while the Swiss one has a firmer and denser texture.
Meringue preparations for the great and the good
One of the fascinating things about meringues is that they do indeed lend themselves to being fashioned simply or elaborately in function of the occasion, the place or the person for whom they are prepared. Today’s recipes celebrate some of the world’s most illustrious people and places.
Recipes that use meringue are often inspired by the meringue’s resemblance to ice and snow, from floating islands to baked Alaska, whilst sometimes a meringue recipe is adapted using slightly different ingredients.
Whatever the origins of the meringue, what is certain, however, is that the beautiful snowy meringue continues to inspire and delight amateur and professional chefs around the world, men and women, young and old.
|Tegral Patacrout* (short crust mix)||1000g|
|Roasted sliced almonds||50g|
|Mimetic* (lamination fat) in cubes||200g|
Mix all ingredients to obtain a dough. Roll out to 3 mm, cut the desired size and bake for approx. 8 min at 180°C.
|Strawberry Classic* (fruit preparation)||25g|
Whisk the ingredients for 5 min.
Composition & Decoration
Make the cookie crust dough and roll out to 3 mm, cut the desired size and bake. Cool down and spray a layer of cocoa butter (so the cookie stays crunchy). Pipe a dot of Topfill Strawberry* (fruit filling) in the middle. End with the strawberry meringue. Allow to dry and set and cover with tempered Belcolade Selection Milk* (chocolate).
* Puratos product
Deli Meringue is made for Italian Meringue recipes. You can burn it with a torch to create a more authentic look and taste.