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The White Lady - Part 2

In today's Blog we are back to talking about meringue!

01 September 2020

In this new post we will continue our journey into the world of meringues!

In the last appointment we talked about the two classic types of meringue: French meringue and Swiss meringue. Today we will talk about the particular and fascinating Italian meringue and that wide world of rich meringues, such as dacquoise, Japanese biscuits, progress cookies, etc... which are meringues with added dried fruit powder. But let's go in order.

The Italian meringue is a soft and delicate sweet, born in Italy not to be used and consumed as such as for example the spumiglie, but as a lightening element, airing, sweetening, softening. The Italian meringue was and still is used in spoon desserts such as mousses or fruit cakes, in creams that need to be made softer such as Chiboust cream, in cream as a sweetening vehicle and supporting element, in ice cream to lighten ice cream and sorbets, combined with cream in Sicilian cassata, in foam, in parfaits. The Italian meringue is therefore a particular base that differs from other meringues as it is prepared with whipped egg whites, but the sugar is not added in crystals but is cooked at 120 ° C. This method involves two very important factors:

  1. You get a very creamy meringue, soft and delicate compared to other methods because the addition of hot sugar generates a partial denaturation of proteins improving the characteristics of the dough in terms of stability and density;
  2. By adding sugar cooked at 118-120 ° C I get a pasteurization and sanitization of pathogens that may be present in the egg white (salmonella) and then a product that I can use "raw".

The Italian meringue therefore should not be baked in the oven because it already undergoes a cooking process during preparation, but used as a sweetening and aerating element in fresh desserts. Another characteristic to which the meringue is well suited is the flaming; in fact, in many pastry preparations today we can find cakes covered with Italian meringue that are slightly burned with a flame, creating a very pleasant effect of light and dark, such as Lemon Pie. This method allows, on the one hand to create a nice visual effect, on the other hand to obtain a hardening of the surface of the meringue that prevents the product to disassemble and remain stable and soft under the flamed part.

Now we come to the quantities and especially to the preparation of the meringue that is not easy to achieve, but first it is good to analyze a couple of aspects relating to the ingredients that make it up:

  • The sugar must be cooked at the correct temperature to avoid remaining crystals still "free" that would then form crystals in the meringue whipped. This is because the egg white, being a colloid, is not able to completely dissolve the added sugar.
  • It is useful to add a small amount of glucose syrup that pursues the same purpose as the cooking of granulated sugar, i.e. it prevents the crystallization of sucrose.

ITALIAN MERINGUE RECIPE AND PROCEDURE

100g egg whites

50g caster sugar

140g caster sugar

10g glucose syrup

50g water

The addition of a small amount of sugar to the egg whites serves to better stabilise the proteins and allow them to dissolve.

The preparation of the meringue is carried out in two steps that are carried out simultaneously:

  • The first step consists in mixing 100g of egg white with 50g of sugar
  • The second step consists in cooking at 120°C 140g of sugar together with 10g of glucose syrup and 50g of water that will be poured into the whipped egg white. The use of a probe thermometer is recommended for this operation.

As mentioned, these two operations must take place simultaneously. It is important that the sugar is cooked at the same time as the egg whites are well whipped. This certainly requires a little attention and experience.

If, for example, the sugar is not ready while the egg whites are already well whipped, you will have to continue whipping the egg whites with the risk of them becoming grainy; if, on the other hand, you stop the machine while waiting for the sugar to reach the cooking temperature, there will be the risk of the egg whites becoming irreversibly disassembled.

On the contrary, if when the sugar is cooked the egg whites will not have reached the desired consistency, you will be forced to stop the cooking of the sugar with the inconvenience that as it cools it will thicken and will not pour perfectly into the egg white with the final effect of a heavy and greasy meringue.

The most practical system is the following: knowing that the sugar takes longer to cook than the egg white to whip, it is better to start cooking the sugar up to 105°C; at this point start whipping the egg white at medium speed (2). When it starts to foam, add the sugar and continue until the whisk marks begin to form on its surface. At this point, increase the speed to higher (3-4) while keeping an eye on the temperature of the sugar by raising or lowering the flame. It is useful to point out that the sugar takes longer to go from 105° to 120°C than it does when it is cold and comes to the boil.

When the sugar reaches the cooking temperature, pour it in a trickle into the whipped egg white, lowering the speed to 2 again and carefully avoiding pouring the sugar onto the planetary mixer whips to prevent their rotating movement from distributing so many drops of sugar on the edge of the bowl, which, as they cool and harden, would no longer be functional for the balance of the meringue.

When you have finished pouring the sugar into the egg whites, turn the speed of the machine back to 3 and let the whipping process and the cooling of the meringue complete, which will end when we have a voluminous, shiny and extremely stable product. The test is taking a little bit of meringue with a spoon and putting it horizontally on the tip forms a stable beak of meringue.

Now we can use the product immediately or put it in a container covered with cling film in contact and transfer it to the freezer for storage that can last up to a couple of weeks.

RICH MERINGUES

As mentioned at the beginning, there are many types of meringues to which a part of dried fruit powder or cocoa or coconut or chocolate is added in order to flavour the product and very small quantities of flour or starch to stabilize the meringue. These enriched meringues are cooked at high temperatures (200-210°C) and for a short time (10-15 min.) in order to obtain a product with a thin crust on the surface and a soft inner core and are used in confectionery as bases or inserts for cakes or mignons. They are prepared in the same way as meringues, so they are made by whipping the egg whites and the sugar, but at the end of the whipping process the enriching ingredients are very delicately added. Attention, as mentioned in the first post on meringues (SEE THE WHITE DAMA), the egg white suffers terribly the presence of fat with the inconvenience, in its presence, to disassemble quickly. The enriching ingredients, as we have seen, are all fats so the operation of mixing them with the meringue must always be done with the help of a silicone pan licker and with extreme delicacy but avoiding to prolong the mixing excessively. Then the product must be poured into a pastry bag with a smooth 6-8mm nozzle, forming flat shapes as desired on baking paper. Lastly, cooking must be carried out immediately after moulding in a preheated static oven. If you use a ventilated oven the cooking temperature must be lowered by 20°C.

Let's see now a couple of recipes.

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Blog edited by Enrico Gumirato, pastry chef and trainer

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