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 soufflĂ©s 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.

meringue icing cupcake

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.

We topped our meringue iced cupcakes with Nicoletta marzipan fruits and fondant fruits (made using Ready to Roll Fondant).

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.

Sugar Stages


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.



  1. Amanda says: August 5, 2013

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