The thing with the meringue….

I love cakes with a meringue, especially when the sweetness of the egg white-sugar mixture is combined with sour aromas like rhubarb, red currants, gooseberries, lemon, lime or passion fruits. But we had always trouble making a meringue that would not last for only ten minutes, before getting runny and finally collapsing.

There was one café in Melbourne, which produced an extraordinary stable and long lasting meringue on top of a lemon tarte (and yes it`s true– we went for pregnancy shopping that day, but this meringue was not only a pregnancy craving at all!).

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So we were wondering: HOW DO THEY DO IT??

One day Lars told me the difference: The long lasting, stiff meringue is called Italian meringue and involves adding sugar syrup, rather than granulated sugar, to the whipped egg. And a sugar thermometer, precise work and timing are crucial here. AHA! We tried it – and failed completely….. and had more meringue cakes in cafés …..

But the meringue thing stayed in my head and a few weeks ago I thought: It cannot be that difficult. So I started, measured everything precisely, could not find the sugar thermometer, sweared, had a look in the internet, thought that I can do it without and … YES, it worked! Of course I have to repeat it in order to call it a “valid and reliably method”, but I thought I can share my work in progress (and the delicious outcome) with you already.

Here I filled a gluten free tarte base with Selina´s luxurious lime and passion fruit curd (http://mellonblog.de/?p=186) and topped the tarte with the Italian meringue (plus some hidden blueberries just under the meringue). For this cake a meringue made of three egg whites was enough, but I needed the double amount of curd as it is written in Selina`s recipe to fill a whole tarte form.

Ingredients for the Italian meringue (enough to cover a 24cm or four 6cm tarts):

  • a sugar thermometer                 if you use only 3 egg whites:
  • 250 g caster sugar                       (187,5 g)
  • 75 ml water                                  (56,25 ml)
  • 4 egg whites                                 (3)

With a sugar thermometer:

Dissolve the sugar in 75ml water over a low heat to precisely 121°C (248°F). Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites on medium until they form soft peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct heat, pour into the egg whites, whisking all the time, in a thin stream. Start whisking the egg whites on medium speed when the syrup reaches 115°C (239°F).

Continue to whisk until the meringue is cold, with a very stiff, smooth, and satiny consistency. Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping or pastry bag fitted with a metal tip. Squeeze the meringue mixture towards the tip to get rid of any air pockets.

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If you don´t have a sugar thermometer (or cannot find it):

Heat sugar and water until it forms a syrup that reaches 120°C, i.e., when it starts to bubble. Let the mixture boil for a little while until it get´s a bit thicker. Be careful: While the syrup is boiling, you’ll notice small crystals form at the sides of the saucepan. Remove them carefully with a brush, being careful they don’t fall in the syrup as this could totally ruin it (honestly, I have not seen this yet).

Pour into the egg whites, whisking all the time, in a thin stream.

Continue to whisk until the meringue is cold, with a very stiff, smooth, and satiny consistency. Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping or pastry bag fitted with a metal tip. Squeeze the meringue mixture towards the tip to get rid of any air pockets.

Before serving flame the meringue carefully using a Bunsen burner/ Crème brûlée burner

Recipe sources:  http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk   http://food.onehowto.com

Ingredients for the tarte base (makes a little bit more than needed):

  • 180 g gluten free oat flour
  • 140g almond flour
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • pinch of salt
  • 90 g cold butter, cut in small cubes
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 70 g Quark

Preparation:

  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Add butter and Quark and form an homogenous dough
  • Let the dough rest in the fridge (at least for 30 minutes).
  • Grease a tarte form with butter. Place the thin and evenly rolled out dough (I roll it out between two layers of cling wrap) into the form, prick the dough evenly with a fork, cover with baking paper and weigh down with baking weights or lentils and let it rest in the fridge again for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (I use fan-function for this).
  • Bake the tarte base in the oven until golden-brown (approx.15 minutes).
  • Once the base is cold you can remove it from the tarte form, fill it with curd or any other cream and decorate it with the meringue. Before serving flame the meringue carefully using a Bunsen burner/ Crème brûlée burner.

Recipe source for the gluten free tarte base: https://maschashimmlischenaschereien.wordpress.com/

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