Learn how to make Swiss meringue, the most stable of all meringues, along with a little food science about how Swiss meringue is different than the other meringue preparations. This post is part of my Baking Fundamentals series where I teach basic baking techniques.
Hello there! It is currently extremely early in the morning and I am very foggy eyed, but I am here and excited because today I am sharing another baking fundamentals post with you! Today I am teaching you about Swiss Meringue, how to make it, and a little science behind what makes it different than the other meringue preparations.
Last week, we talked about the French Meringue preparation. French Meringue is awesome because it requires very few steps, very little equipment, and very little time or technique to make. Essentially egg whites are whipped, sugar is gradually added and whipped into it halfway through, and the mixture is whipped further until stiff peaks are formed.
While this is all fine and good and I make French Meringue a lot for certain things (like that angel food cake), there are times when it is just not stable enough and a more stable meringue is needed.
Enter, Swiss Meringue! Swiss Meringue is the most stable of all meringues. It is also more dense and glossier, almost marshmallow like. Swiss meringue pipes like a dream and holds its shape well without weeping for a much longer time than french meringue. For this reason, it is great to use as a pie topping especially if you aren’t serving it immediately. The preparation of Swiss meringue also makes it safer to eat if you aren’t baking it because you heat the mixture during the preparation.
Let’s walk through the steps, shall we?
How to Make Swiss Meringue
Step 1- Whisk together the egg whites and sugar. In a very clean bowl, free from all oil/grease, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. No need to use superfine sugar here, like we did with French meringue, because the sugar is going to get completely dissolved during the process anyway.[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h5″ icon=”flask”] Baking Science Fun Fact![/feature_headline]
The egg whites in meringue serve two main purposes. They are the liquid in which the sugar is able to dissolve in and they also serve as the protein structure for creating the web that will trap the air bubbles to create the volume in meringue.
The sugar serves the purpose of stabilizing the protein web that traps the air (as well as sweetening the mixture). The earlier in the process the sugar is added, the more stable the meringue. This is why Swiss meringue is the most stable.
Step 2- Heat the mixture over a double boiler. A double boiler is essentially a pot of simmering water that your bowl can sit on top of. You don’t want the bottom of the bowl to be touching the water. Sit your bowl over the pan and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is heated to 160F. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, whisk until the mixture turns opaque and the sugar has completely dissolved. It should feel completely smooth between your fingers. This should take about 5-7 minutes. I do this right in my mixing bowl so that I don’t have to dirty another bowl when we move to the next step.[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h5″ icon=”flask”] Baking Science Fun Fact![/feature_headline]
Plain egg whites begin to thicken and coagulate starting at 145F. But the sugar acts on the proteins in the egg whites and will slow down the coagulation process so that the whites will remain liquid during this heating stage.
Step 3- Whip the mixture on high to cool it down. With the whip attachment, whip the eggs on high. This will cool the mixture down and begin creating a foam. If you have made french meringue before, this is going to take much longer to thicken than that preparation does. In about 3 minutes it will start to turn white and foamy.
Step 4- Continue whipping to stiff peaks. This is more of a continuation of step 3 as you do not need to do anything other than keep you mixer working. But I seperate it out because the first few minutes the mixture is cooling down and after it is cool enough then it will start working toward that stiff peak stage. The mixture will turn very glossy, thick, and almost marshmallow like.
After about 6-8 minutes the mixture will hold stiff peaks. It is possible to overmix this meringue just like any of the others, but it isn’t as easy to do here as it is with french meringue. It is just more stable all around.
Now your meringue is ready to use for whatever your little heart desires. Top a pie with it and give it a quick torch or a flash under the broiler. Or use it to make a swiss meringue buttercream which is what I used this for! I have the cake and buttercream recipe coming up for you so stay tuned!
But here is a little teaser to get you in the mood!
One year ago: Eclairs with Espresso Glaze and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Two years ago: Apple Streusel Muffins
Three years ago: Easy Breakfast Pastries for Valentine’s Day
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Set up a double boiler (a pot filled with water not all the way to the top) and bring the water to a simmer.
- In a very clean heatproof bowl (I use the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together the egg whites and the sugar.
- Set the bowl over the double boiler, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, and whisk while the mixture heats to 160F. You can check with a kitchen thermometer, or if you do not have one the mixture will become very liquid as the sugar melts and it should feel very smooth between your fingers. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to your stand mixer (or you can do it with a hand mixer but it will take much longer), whip at high speed with your whisk attachment to cool the mixture down.
- Continue whipping at high speed until stiff peaks are reached. The mixture will become very thick, glossy, and almost marshmallow like. This will take about 6-8 minutes of whipping.