11/04/2011 11:35 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make A Meringue

To demonstrate the simple steps it takes to make a Swiss meringue, Dianne Rossomando of The Culinary Institute of America begins by adding 1 pound of sugar along with 8 ounces of egg whites to a glass bowl set over a pan of water. She turns up the heat to medium and begins lightly whisking the mixture to dissolve the sugar. The goal here is to warm the eggs and sugar to about 130F, or the point where it feels warm to the touch (not hot). Once that's accomplished (about 7-10 minutes), she pours the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment.

She turns on the mixer to incorporate air into the meringue. The idea is to get the mixture to transform from a yellowish liquid to a glossy, white, marshmallow-like consistency. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes for the meringue to come up to volume, she says. Once you have a fluffy white mixture that holds stiff peaks, your meringue is finished. She uses it to cover a simple lemon tart, loading the meringue into a pastry bag and piping star kisses all over the top of the tart. As a finishing touch, she uses a hand torch to give the meringue a light toast, something you could also do under the broiler in your oven.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Rossamondo from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make meringue.

Today we're doing a Swiss meringue. Your ingredients will be one pound of sugar and eight ounces of egg whites, so it's a two-to-one ratio. I'm going to place them in a bowl over the water bath, which is going to be turned on in just a second. So this is my eight ounces of egg white, my one pound of sugar - and I'll turn the heat on to medium. We're looking for the sugar to start to dissolve and the egg whites to start to foam a little bit, so you need to do that with the whisk. We'll use a hand whisk to stir this up. The sugar's going to warm and start to melt. As sugar melts it becomes more fluid; we will have quite a bit of liquid in the bowl.

We have had our egg white on the water bath for about 7 to 10 minutes. It's just heating up and has come to about 130 degrees. It should just feel slightly warm to the touch, and when you press your fingers through the mixture it should be fully melted, and you won't feel any of the granulars in there. I'm going to pour this mixture into the bowl; you can use the whisk attachment of the hand blender on a low speed. We're just waiting for the meringue to incorporate some air, get some more volume - and it will turn from this kind of yellow hue to bright white, fluffy, almost marshmallow consistency. This takes about five to seven minutes to come up to maximum volume. We'll just bring the speed up a little bit.

We're basically at a finished point. You can see that it's getting very, very stiff. Now we'll lower the speed and take it off the mixer. When we remove this, you'll see that it's really shiny and glossy, it reflects a lot of light, it has a beautiful peak to it.

Now we'll get ready to start piping. I have my pastry bag here, with a star tip, and I'm going to feed about two or three spatulas full of my mixture into my piping bag. If you were to taste this at this point, it's really sweet and slightly sticky. But we're going to actually take the meringue and torch it, and it's going to taste like toasted marshmallow.

We have here a baked lemon tart, and we're going to pipe meringue kisses on top of the tart. We'll start at a twelve o'clock position and press down and pull up. These are just little kisses, and we'll make our way around the whole entire tart.

We're pretty much at the end; I'm going to just finish my last few peaks, getting the last bit of meringue in place. You can leave it at this point, it's fine, but just to give it that real American traditional look and taste, you would stick it in a broiler (which is just top heat, and very high) -- or you could use a blowtorch. Every pastry chef is basically a pyromaniac. This is my favorite tool. So I'm just going back and forth; as you go back and forth you're toasting the meringue. You may need to rotate the dish just a little bit so you get all sides of the meringue. So now we have our lemon meringue tart completed.