Sunday, January 29, 2012


Mrs. Beeton's cookbook has a recipe for meringues. Her meringues are crisp sugar shells that can be filled with whipped cream.


Ingredients.—1/2 lb. of pounded sugar, the whites of 4 eggs.

 Mode. — Whisk the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and, with a wooden spoon, stir in quickly the pounded sugar; and have some boards thick enough to put in the oven to prevent the bottom of the meringues from acquiring too much colour. Cut some strips of paper about 2 inches wide; place this paper on the board, and drop a tablespoonful at a time of the mixture on the paper, taking care to let all the meringues be the same size.

 In dropping it from the spoon, give the mixture the form of an egg, and keep the meringues about 2 inches apart from each other on the paper. Strew over them some sifted sugar, and hake in a moderate oven for 1 hour. As soon as they begin to colour, remove them from the oven; take each slip of paper by the two ends, and turn it gently on the table, and, with a small spoon, take out the soft part, of each meringue. Spread some clean paper on the board, turn the meringues upside down, and put them into the oven to harden and brown on the other side.

When required for table, fill them with whipped cream, flavoured with liqueur or vanilla, and sweetened with pounded sugar. Join two of the meringues together, and pile them high in the dish, as shown in the annexed drawing. To vary their appearance, finely-chopped almonds or currants may be strewn over them before the sugar is sprinkled over; and they may be garnished with any bright coloured preserve.

Great expedition is necessary in making this sweet dish; as, if the meringues are not put into the oven as soon as the sugar and eggs are mixed, the former melts, and the mixture would run on the paper, instead of keeping its egg-shape. The sweeter the meringues are made, the crisper will they be; but, if there is not sufficient sugar mixed with them, they will most likely be tough. They are sometimes coloured with cochineal; and, if kept well covered in a dry place, will remain good for a month or six weeks.

When I make meringues, I use a modern recipe and don't usually fill them. Take 6 egg whites, 2 cups sugar and a few drops of lemon juice (it helps stabilize the mixture). A kitchenaid mixer makes short work of whipping the egg whites, and you should add the sugar very gradually while the mixer is running on high.
When the mixture is very stiff, drop it on foil covered cookie sheets and bake it for an hour in a 250 degree oven. After an hour, turn the oven off, but leave the meringues inside until cool. I like to leave some white and color some pink with food color. If you want to be perfectly accurate you can color them with real cochineal.

Cochineal is a red dye made from the bodies of tiny cochineal bugs. It was used to dye wool a vibrant red. It is safe to eat, though I don't suppose one wants to think about it, and it can sometimes be found as a coloring in fruit juices even today.

1 comment:

  1. I'll pass on the cochineal but it's been a while since I made meringues in any color but white - I just don't often think to add some coloring. The last time I made them, I substituted Splenda (oh, horrors!) as my husband is diabetic. I don't recall them being overly tough, but it's something I should pay closer attention to. I think it's time to make more meringues! I'm loving your blog!