This frosting recipe is a cooked meringue (no Salmonella here thanks!). There are three techniques to making meringue (French/Swiss/Italian), and each can be used to create the perfect meringue for its purpose.
French Meringue – is an uncooked meringue, and the least stable of the three. Granular sugar is gradually added to the soft-peak-beaten egg whites, the result is a smooth, fluffy and light meringue, which is perfect for soufflés and pie toppings.
Swiss Meringue – is made by whipping sugar and egg whites vigorously over a pot of simmering water (the sugar and egg whites should be very warm to the touch before whipping them). This method creates a more dense, firm and fine texture, perfect for baking crisp meringues.
Italian Meringue – this is made with a sugar syrup that has been heated to the soft-ball stage (112°C). The syrup is poured slowly into soft-peak-beaten egg whites to create voluminous, firm and glossy peaks. It is the most stable of meringues and makes great icings and mousses.
This mixture will happily adorn 24 cupcakes:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 egg whites
Place the sugar and water in a heavy based pan. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes, or until reaching “soft ball” stage. If you are using a sugar thermometer this will be at a temperature of 112°C. Beat the egg whites until foamy, remove the sugar syrup from the heat and pour the syrup in a thin consistent stream over the beaten egg whites while beating. Continue beating the mixture until the icing is thick and glossy. Get ready to ice/ pipe this as a topping to cupcakes, baked Alaska or meringue pie.
Check out our tips and tricks to making the perfect meringues. Here is a handy guide to heating sugar, whether you use a thermometer or the droplet method.
|Characteristics of Sugar syrup dropped into a glass of cool water –|
|Thread stage||102||Forms a liquid thread that will not ball up.|
|Soft Ball stage||112||Forms a soft, flexible ball.|
|Firm ball stage||118||Forms a firm ball.|
|Hard ball stage||121||Forms thick, “ropy” threads as it drips from the spoon, forms a hard ball in water.|
|Soft crack stage||129||Forms solid threads that, when removed from the water, are flexible, not brittle.|
|Hard crack stage||143||Forms hard, brittle threads that break when bent|
|Clear liquid||160||At this temperature all the water has boiled away. The remaining sugar is liquid and light amber in colour.|
|Brown liquid||170||At this stage the liquefied sugar turns brown in colour due to caramelisation|
|Burnt sugar||176||The sugar begins to burn and develops a bitter, burnt taste.|