Meringue is a fascinating, yet fairly simple ingredient for a wide array of desserts and confections. A Swiss pastry chef named Gasparini invented this sweet, fluffy concoction of beaten egg whites and sugar in the early 1700s. Generations of bakers have added billowy meringues on top of sweet, creamy pie fillings. Chefs bake them into firm, crisp shapes to encase fruit or whip up a creamy version to lighten a souffle or mousse recipe. By following some basic tips and learning a few tricks, any cook can create a beautiful, delicious meringue.
There are three types of meringue originating from three different European traditions. The most common type is a French meringue. Bakers add this uncooked version to soufflés. Although it is the least stable of the three, it is the lightest version. Swiss meringue is the firmest type of meringue and a popular choice for cooks who are creating crisp meringue cake layers or pie toppings. Italian meringue is the most stable of the three types of meringues. Many chefs prefer to use Italian meringue in desserts such as buttercreams and mousses.
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