Lemon Meringues

March 15, 2010

Until recently I never really understood meringues. The ones I had encountered just tasted sweet and crunchy without a lot of flavor. Why would I choose that when there was a perfectly good chocolate chip cookie sitting next to it on the cookie platter? It is the obvious choice for Passover but I have never made them, instead favoring rich chocolate desserts like flourless chocolate cake. But this year I have come to realize that with all the heavy food at the seder and the rest of the week it is sometimes nice to have a lighter option. So I decided to try making meringues with enough flavor to make them worth eating.

Well, it turns out I have been wrong about meringues all these years. They can be flavorful after all. These lemon meringues are delicious, with a strong lemon flavor and a nice crunchy exterior. I made them using meyer lemon zest but I think any citrus zest would be tasty. Since I make a lot of ice cream I always have a lot of leftover egg whites so I plan to make grapefruit and lime next. Passover seems to be sneaking up on me this year. Since it is only two weeks away I will be posting Passover recipes until then.

Lemon Meringues

makes about 50

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 packed teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 190. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the zest and sugar in the metal bowl of an electric mixer. Rub it together with your fingers until it is well mixed and very fragrant. Add the egg whites. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch, 2-3 minutes. Transfer bowl to the mixer and whip (using the whisk attachment) until the mixture holds a stiff peak.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a medium sized star or round tip (I like ateco #826) and pipe meringue no bigger than one inch. (Any larger and they may crack while baking). Alternatively, use a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe the meringues.

Bake the meringues for one hour and thirty minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back after one hour. At this point the meringues will be set and firm to the touch but may still be a bit sticky. Turn off the oven and let the meringues dry in the over night.

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  1. How many meringues do you get out of this recipe? I’m surprised that it only calls for 5 tablespoons of sugar for 2 whites. My recipe calls for a cup of sugar to 3 egg whites, and I generally get between 40 and 48. My favorite type is quite flavorful, in my opinion. I add toasted coconut, and sometimes chocolate chips as well.

    I have served them at the seders for many years, though, for exactly the reason you gave; after so much matzah and marror, and a meal besides, I only serve the lightest of desserts. Other meals can get more desserts, but after the seders, we always go light.

    I must say, though, that mine don’t look much like yours; I might be embarrassed to serve ones that look like yours in mixed company, if you get my drift!

  2. Lovely meringues! I love the idea of making them lemon-flavored. I’ve never tried that. Perfect Passover dessert (no one would pass over these!).

  3. These look great. And you are so right about needing something light to offset all that flourless chocolate cake (I like chocolate nemesis). I like to make lemon angel pie (meringue crust, lemon curd filling, lemon mousse (curd mixed into some topping), and whipped topping). I like the idea of incorporating the lemon into the meringue itself. I’ve always wanted to serve miniature pavlovas . . . These meringues would be great with some cut up macerated berries and whipped topping.

    (and I will try to e-mail you the Dora Lee Patinkin recipe for “butter” cookies. It never ever fails to get raves. Even when side by side with flourless chocolate cake.)

  4. I sent you the “butter” cookie recipe. The recipe calls for putting the yolks in the dough and using the leftover 2 whites as a glaze, but I always use the whites for macaroons or meringues. Your meringue recipe uses 2 whites, which leaves you with the exact amount of yolks for the Patinkin cookie!

  5. @Queenscook, I didn’t include a yield because number of meringues really depends on the size, but I got several dozen. I tend to like my meringues less sweet which is why there is less sugar, but feel free to add the lemon zest to your favorite recipe instead.
    I always pipe my meringues but if you don’t like the shape feel free to spoon them instead.

  6. I love making meringues, I always add a few drops of flavour concentrate to make them especially delicious 🙂
    My favourite is raspberry, nice fresh flavour and the meringues turn a gorgeous light pink.

    • I am not sure why yours took so long to beat. Perhaps there was some grease in the bowl/on the beaters? I tried it again and it took exactly 5 minutes in the stand mixture, so I imagine it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes with a hand beater. However, you are right that the baking time is too long. I am working on the recipe to find the perfect temp/time combo and will repost it once it is fixed. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  7. Great recipe! I’ve been looking for a good way to flavor meringues with lemon, but never even thought about lemon zest. You should try chocolate. I make them with 6 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1/3 cup of a high quality cocoa (I use Ghirardelli). Slowly mix the cocoa in AFTER you have stiff peaks with the sugar. Use a mixer on its lowest setting, or you’ll have cocoa powder all over the kitchen. Bake as per your instructions. They’re great.

  8. Don’t try if using a hand mixer! I was very careful bowl and beaters were clean and dry. Measured ingredients very carefully and my mixer is very strong but after mixing for 1/2 hour I gave up and washed it all down the drain. Very disappointing as I wanted to take these to a Passover Dinner tonight 🙁

  9. This comment is obviously very late to the party, but I’ve found you can actually get the best texture and most stable meringue from hand whisking and adding a pinch of cream of tartar, and it only takes about 10-15 minutes. A copper bowl is best, but if using stainless steel just wash it once and then give the bowl (and whisk) a rinse with white vinegar to remove all fats, then rinse with water, then wipe with clean paper towel or air dry. The advantage of hand whisking (besides the arm workout) is that you can stop right when you get to stiff peaks–you never over-beat, and I’ve never had it take as long as it does with my hand blenders. I’m not sure why. I’ve also had trouble with the stand mixer leaving bits of sugar on the bottom of the bowl, which is not good.

    I whisk the egg whites with a healthy pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp. per white) until they’re foamy and starting to thicken. I then add cream of tartar (1/8 tsp. per white) and superfine sugar (I just take regular sugar and put it in the food processor for a few minutes–I use this in all baking). The amount of sugar is usually 1/4 c. per white, but I’ve been able to cut that in half. You have to add a tbsp. at a time to avoid a grainy texture and a nice aeration; it’s nice to have a helper at this point for adding the sugar while you go crazy whisking 🙂

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