Meringue Demystifies a Decadent Dessert

| September 24, 2012 | Homepage Latest The Latest

1 - Meringue Demystifies a Decadent Dessert

Meringue offers over 80 meringue-based recipes, like one for this meringata.

Meringue is no longer just your favorite topping for lemon pie, it’s now the name of a new cookbook by Los Angeles-based authors Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. Together they have taken the basic meringue ingredients—egg whites, sugar, vinegar, and air—and transformed them into over 80 delicious recipes from cookies to pies, pavlovas to tarts, and yes, even dacquoises (a layered cake made of almond and hazelnut meringue and whipped or butter cream).

We caught up with the authors for a behind-the-scenes look at Meringue, and were lucky enough to snag a sneak-peek recipe for Los Angeles Confidential. If you like what you see, the book is available at most Barnes & Noble stores, including locations at the Grove and 3rd Street Promenade, at Anthropologie, or online at

What drew you to meringue?
LINDA K. JACKSON: My first taste of meringue was my mother's lemon meringue pie, but it wasn't until my first trip to Europe that I discovered how incredibly versatile meringue really is. From the meringue cookies in Paris to the meringue gelato at the world famous Vivoli in Florence, my eyes were opened to all the possibilities of meringue.
JENNIFER EVANS GARDNER: It was probably a vacherin I had while living in Paris in my twenties that sealed the deal. Like Linda, I love the versatility of meringue, but also its simplicity. In fact, it's so simple that I have been teaching kids as young as five years old to make pavlova and French macarons in my “Little Feet in the Kitchen” cooking classes for almost nine years. They love watching egg whites and sugar turn to gorgeous clouds of meringue—it truly is magical.

What inspired you to go out and write a cookbook?
LKJ: Despite its delicate appearance, meringue really is easy to make. But most people—even experienced bakers—don't realize it. We wanted to demystify meringue and make it accessible to everyone. And we happen to think it's the perfect dessert. Because meringue is made with egg whites, it's low in fat and high in protein, so you can feel virtuous eating it. Meringue is also gluten-free so it's particularly appealing to those on restricted diets. But most of all, it is absolutely heavenly. How could we keep it to ourselves?
JEG: This is my third cookbook, actually! I have been writing about food for years, and when Linda approached me with the idea of writing a meringue cookbook together, I couldn't resist.

Just how much arm strength do you need to whip up meringue by hand?
LKJ: I can only tell you how much arm strength you need to plug in a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer…not very much. It's all in the wrist.
JEG: We have actually whipped up meringue by hand in my kids' cooking classes and I can tell just need friends to help you out. It's nice to take turns.

What is your absolute favorite meringue treat?
LKJ: That's like asking me which of my children I love more. It's a toss up between my mother's lemon meringue pie and the classic berry pavlova.
JEG: Hmmm, that's a tricky one. If I have to choose, it would be the Ile Flottante with salted caramel and hazelnuts. Divine.

Chocolate-Flecked Meringata with Warm Espresso Fudge Sauce

From the authors: "We love how the warmth of the espresso fudge sauce contrasts with the frozen chocolate-flecked whipped cream, nestled between layers of crisp meringue, in this beautiful meringata (Italian for 'meringued')."

6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate-Flecked Whipped Cream Filling
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Warm Espresso Fudge Sauce
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Trace 1 (10-inch) circle on each of 2 pieces of parchment paper then turn the paper over and place each on a large baking sheet.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Transfer half of the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip and pipe a ring of meringue just inside the line of 1 of the circles. Continue piping in concentric circles until the circle is filled completely. Repeat for the second circle. Bake for 90 minutes, rotating the baking sheets half way through. Turn oven off, and cool meringue discs in closed oven, up to 2 hours or until dry to the touch. Cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.

Chocolate-Flecked Whipped Cream Filling
With an electric mixer, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff. Gently fold in chocolate.

Warm Espresso Fudge Sauce
Bring cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, and 1/4 cup chocolate to a boil in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat and cook at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly. The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in a covered container until you’re ready to serve the meringata. Reheat the sauce on the stovetop or microwave until warm.

To Assemble and Serve Meringata
Gently place 1 of the meringue discs on a flat, sturdy serving plate. With an offset spatula, spread the chocolate-flecked cream over meringue, spreading it to the edge. Top with the second meringue disc, pressing it very lightly into place. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the cream is firm, about 4 hours.

Remove the meringata cake from the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to serve so that the cream softens a bit, making it easier to slice. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into wedges and transfer to individual dessert plates. Generously spoon the Warm Espresso Fudge Sauce over each piece and serve. If you have any of the meringata left over, return it to the freezer, covered in plastic wrap or foil.