French Meringue (otherwise known as Common Meringue) is naturally gluten free and is the simplest of the meringues to make! It comes together by simply whipping two ingredients, sugar and raw egg whites. Within minutes these two ingredients transform into a glossy sweet, voluminous mixture.
French Meringue being the easiest of meringues to prepare, also happens to be the least stable. Making it best used to lighten cake batters and soufflés, or for making crispy meringue cookies or dessert shells.
French Meringue is a great starting point for beginner bakers and a must to master for every pastry chef. This recipe as well as my recipes for Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue are all included in Module Two: Sugar and Fillings of the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry School. Learning how to make these meringues will give you the base skills needed to master the gluten free cakes, cookies and desserts in upcoming Modules Three, Five and Six.
What is Meringue?
Meringue is a classic pastry technique where raw egg whites and sugar are whipped together until they form stiff peaks, resulting in a glossy, fluffy mixture. The sweet, aerated meringue can then be used to make a variety of desserts.
Types of Meringue?
There are three types of meringue: French, Swiss and Italian. all of which generally have a basic ratio of one part egg whites and either one or two parts sugar
Tips for making perfect French Meringue
- All equipment and utensils must be clean and dry. No traces of fat or grease (this includes egg yolk) can come into contact with the egg whites. The fat will interfere with the protein strands and will prevent the egg whites from whipping up to stiff peaks.
- Use room temperature egg whites. The room temperature egg whites will whip up faster as the proteins are relaxed and can better form a network that will aerate and maintain its shape.
- Add an acid. Adding cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar (all acids) will help relax the proteins, helping to stabilize the meringue and develop structure. You can add approx ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar or ½ teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar per 30g of egg white.
- Use clean sugar. Sugar that has come into contact with flour or other ingredients will cause the meringue to deflate or not whip to stiff peaks.
- Use superfine sugar. When making French Meringue I prefer to use caster or berry sugar as it has a finer grind when compared to granulated sugar. Because this meringue is uncooked, the sugar will have a harder time breaking down and using a fine sugar will ensure there isn’t an unpleasant grittiness.
- Using an electric mixer. Using an electric mixer is ideal when making meringue as the egg whites will whip up quicker and be more stable. If whipping French Meringue by hand, use a large, balloon-style whisk and add the sugar very slowly so you don’t weigh the proteins down. Try to use a vigorous, back and forth motion while whisking to create the most friction and air movement.
What can you make with French Meringue?
- French Meringue is often used by folding the uncooked mixture into cake and soufflé batters. It provides sweetness and leavening.
- It can be piped into small cookies or various shapes and baked at a low temperature until they are dry and crispy. Pavlova is a favourite in my house which is topped with fresh whipped cream and berries.
- This is also the base for making classic gluten free French Macarons.
French Meringue Quick Facts:
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Type of mixing method: whipped, French
Ingredients: white granulated or superfine sugar and egg whites (pasteurized, if not baking/cooking)
Best used for: cakes, French macarons, meringue cookies, soufflés, and piped into sticks, domes and other decorations for plated desserts.
How to Separate Egg Whites and Yolks like a Pastry Chef
Lets get baking! (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Mis en Place
Going back to the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry Principals, this is always our first step when baking as it not only helps ensure accuracy during the mixing process, but it also makes the whole baking process a lot more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s a win/win!
If I’ve said it 100 times, I’ll say it again. Measuring ingredients by weight not volume is the magic sauce to gluten free baking! I always do my best to provide the cup (volume) measurements where possible. If you are going to measure by volume, click this link for tips on the correct way to measure by volume.
Scale the following ingredients
French (common) Meringue Ingredients:
90g egg whites (approx 3 large US eggs)
180g or 3/4 cup caster or berry sugar (superfine)
2 tsp vanilla extract or maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (optional)
pinch kosher salt
Prepare the equipment
- Stand Mixer with whisk attachment or large bowl and balloon whisk
- Silicon spatula
Place raw egg whites and vanilla into a bowl of a stand-mixer. Whip on high speed until they become frothy. If you are using an acid (such as cream of tartar or vinegar) this is when you can add it.
Add sugar one tablespoon at a time and whip for approx 15 seconds. Continue this process of adding sugar and waiting 15 seconds until all the sugar has been incorporated.
Turn off the mixer and scrape away any excess sugar around the sides of the bowl.
Continue to whip until stiff peaks are achieved. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
Storing French Meringue
Use French Meringue within 1 hour of making or sooner as it will begin to collapse if left to sit for too long.
French Meringue Q&A
Question: Is French Meringue gluten free?
It is gluten free! Because French Meringue only incorporates two ingredients, sugar and egg whites (and sometimes cream of tartar/lemon or vinegar). It is naturally gluten free and safe for anyone who is celiac or can’t tolerate gluten.
There is sometimes confusion surrounding ‘Meringue’ because most packaged meringue mixes sold in grocery stores do indeed contain gluten.
Question: Can I use French Meringue when making chocolate mousse?
Yes, you can. Keeping in mind that this type of meringue is not cooked so you will need to make sure you are using pasteurized eggs.
Caution regarding raw egg whites: It is also not advised to serve saw egg whites to women who are pregnant or children under the age of 5 due to potential salmonella poisoning.
Question: Do I need a stand-mixer?
Yes and no. Ultimately the results will be slightly better if you use a stand-mixer as the rate at which the egg whites are aerated will contribute to their structure. If whipping French Meringue by hand, use a large, balloon-style whisk and add the sugar very slowly so you don’t weigh the proteins down. Try to use a vigorous, back and forth motion while whisking to create the most friction and air movement.
Question: Why is my French Meringue tinted green?
If you happen to have used cream of tartar as your acid and whipped your egg whites and sugar in a copper bowl, then the toxic reaction between the copper and cream of tartar will have turned the meringue a slightly green colour.Print
The next lesson is Module Three: Cream and Custard. Modules launch the last Monday of each month. Make sure to sign up to my newsletter for reminders and other gluten free recipes and tips.