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Swiss meringue is one of three types of meringues, and when done right, is fluffy like the French meringue, and stable, like its Italian cousin. It’s made by cooking egg whites and sugar over a bain-marie (a double boiler), then whipped to stiff peaks. The voluminous mixture can then be used to put on top of pies, baked as crisp meringue cookies, or as a base for Swiss Meringue Buttercream that's used for frosting cakes.
Swiss meringue is arguably best known for its role in elevating the usual buttercream to something much more than the sum of its parts. The basic buttercream, especially in humid and warm Singapore, can sometimes be greasy, unstable, and overly sweet.
Swiss meringue to the rescue, then.
As with any meringues, you want to make sure that you have a completely clean, grease and oil-free bowl. Try to use metal, glass or copper bowls as plastic bowls tend to hold grease, a big no-no for meringues.
Ideally, you’d have a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of the egg white and sugar mixture during the cooking stage. However, if you’re baking at home and don’t want too much fuss, simply using your fingers to ensure that the mixture is warm and the sugar has dissolved will do the trick!
Your mixture should also be opaque instead of transparent. This indicates that your meringue is safe for eating – especially important when you are using it as a base for frosting!
4 large egg whites (about 35g/egg white, 140g total)
280g granulated sugar
And that’s how easy (relatively) it is to whip up a Swiss meringue! Besides using it as a base for Swiss meringue buttercream, you can pipe it into little drops and bake them for crisp meringue cookies, or use it as a topping for desserts such as a baked Alaska.
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