Swiss Meringue is a glossy, marshmallow-like confection that comes together within minutes of gently heating and whipping sugar and egg whites over a bain-marie.
Because Swiss Meringue is heated to a temperature of 46C/115F during the mixing process, it is safe to consume without further baking and will hold its shape. This means it’s perfect for making buttercreams, cake fillings and adding piping and decorative elements to desserts.
This Swiss Meringue recipe is the exact recipe I’ve used when I worked in professional kitchens and to this day, is my go-to meringue and a favourite when making buttercreams.
Swiss Meringue is what I would call an ‘intermediate’ recipe within the meringue world because it requires slightly more attention when compared to our ‘beginner’ French meringue recipe. Swiss meringue is generally the meringue of choice in professional kitchens as it comes together quickly and is fairly stable. Making it a must learn for any aspiring baker or pastry chef.
This recipe as well as my recipes for French 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. 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 stable, 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 Swiss 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.
- Indirect heat ONLY. Make sure the mixing bowl does not come into direct contact with the simmering water. You can also make a ring out of foil to keep the bowl from touching the hot water.
- 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.
- 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 Swiss 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 Swiss Meringue?
- Swiss Meringue is often used for making buttercreams that are silky, smooth and stable.
- Because it doesn’t require any further baking, it can be used as a topping on pies, such as baked Alaska or pumpkin pie, or tarts, such as lemon meringue.
- This is the ideal meringue when making chocolate mousse or if you need to lighten up a cream filling.
Swiss Meringue Quick Facts:
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Type of mixing method: whipped, Swiss
Ingredients: white granulated or superfine sugar and egg whites
Best used for: cakes, French macarons, meringue cookies, soufflés, and pipped 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
Swiss Meringue Ingredients:
120g egg whites (approx 4 large US eggs)
225g or 1 cup caster or berry sugar (superfine)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
Prepare the equipment
- Stand Mixer with whisk attachment
- Bain-marie (medium saucepan and large heat-proof bowl or stand-mixer bowl)
- Large balloon whisk
- Silicon spatula
Place raw egg whites and sugar in a bowl of a stand-mixer and whisk just until they are combined.
Place the bowl over a medium saucepan, with simmering water and continue whisking gently until the mixture reaches a temperature of 45C/115F.
Pastry Chef Tip: If you don’t want to use a thermometer you can wait until the mixture feels slightly warmer than body-temperature and then rubbing some of the mixture between your index finger and thumb, it should feel smooth and free form any sugar granules or grittiness.
Remove the bowl from the bain-marie and begin whisking on medium high speed until the meringue is completely cool. It will be firm, glossy and hold a stiff peak.
Storing Swiss Meringue
Swiss meringue can be made several hours before using. Cover the meringue with cling film or store it in the piping bag you intend to use. If left too long (such as overnight) it will begin to lose some of its density and could begin to weep beads of sugar, depending on the ambient humidity.
Swiss Meringue Q&A
Question: Is Swiss Meringue gluten free?
It is gluten free! Because Swiss 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: My sugar and egg whites look curdled?
If your sugar and egg white mixture starts to look curdled, they have more than likely been cooked too long or reached too high of a temperature. Resulting in scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, there is no saving the mixture at this point, and you will have to start again. Make sure you are always gently whisking the mixture while they are over the bain-marie.
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 Swiss 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 Swiss 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
Recipe questions? I’d love to help!
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.