French Meringues Vs Italian Meringues for macarons
When baking macarons, there are lots of different methods and recipes and people tend to favour their own recipe, stick to it and completely perfect it. One of the biggest debates in macaron making is whether you should use a French meringue base or an Italian meringue. The making of macarons with Italian meringue dates back to Catherine de Medici and her Italian chefs! The Italian Meringue method involves a hot sugar syrup, and the French meringue method doesn’t. By boiling the sugar syrup and pouring it into beaten egg whites to whip to a stiff and fluffy meringue, the Italian Meringue method adds more stability to the macaron batter by controlling the moisture in the egg whites and air in the meringue. It produces a very stable meringue which doesn’t deflate, which is perfect when you are making large batches of macarons. However, both French and Italian meringue bases can be used when making macarons. It just depends how you would like your macaroons to come out once they have been baked. So as you can see there does tend to be a debate between macaron makers about the best meringue base.
Traditional French Meringue
To give you a bit of background and a bit more information, we will be looking at what a traditional French meringue is made up of and what the desired texture is. The making of a French meringue involves whipping uncooked egg whites and sugar to create a fluffy and airy base for your dessert. With the French meringue, it’s very easy to over mix the batter and they are particularly delicate. A French meringue is the easiest and simplest to make with very few steps involved in the baking process, you do have to bear in mind that if you wanted to make your French meringue sweeter, the more sugar you add, the denser the actual meringue will be. A French meringue is the least stable of the meringues which means that if it isn’t used straightaway it will start to crumble. It is normally suggested that you use a French meringue on the day you made it. To make a French meringue all you have to do is:
Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and begin to whisk. Gradually add the sugar, whisking all the time until the whites reach stiff peaks. Gently fold in your almond meal and colour and pipe onto a tray lined with baking paper. Cook in an oven until the foot is risen and the shell will remain soft inside.
Traditional Italian Meringue
There is also another type of meringue which can be used when making desserts. This is the Italian meringue. The Italian meringue is the most stable type of meringue so it is sometimes favoured over using a French meringue, it is stable because the melted sugar cooks the egg whites, resulting in a soft, glossy finish. It is most often used for piping on top of pastries and desserts because it holds its shape so well. At Miss Macaroon each batch of macaroons makes about 1,100 to 1,200 macaroons so stability is the most important factor for us!
You can make an Italian meringue using the following steps:
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan over a medium heat with a thermometer resting in the liquid. Start to slowly whisk the egg whites either in a stand mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk until just starting to foam.
Heat the sugar until it reaches 113°C then slowly pour into the egg whites whilst still whisking.
Turn the whisk up to full speed and whisk until cooled to room temperature – the meringue is now ready to use.
What’s The Difference?
What is the actual difference between a French meringue and an Italian meringue you may be wondering? Well we are here to explain that for you! A French meringue is created by whipping together cool egg whites with caster sugar until they form a stiff consistency. This method only relies on kitchen equipment most bakers already own and you don’t have to worry about handling boiling sugar! Whereas an Italian meringue involves a few more steps and a slightly closer eye, it relies on a hot sugar syrup slowly whipped into egg whites to achieve its meringue. The baker will also need to have a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the sugar. The Italian method is said to be more reliable than the French method, but it does create a different texture. To create the Italian meringue, sugar is dissolved into water in a saucepan and brought to a boil at around 112°C to 116°C. After the syrup is created, it is slowly drizzled into the egg whites as they are whipping, until the mixture form stiff peaks and cools. But pouring the syrup in too fast will cook the eggs and ruin the meringue, so it does require a bit more precision. These are the main differences between a French meringue and an Italian meringue.
Miss Macaroons’ Preference
At Miss Macaroon, our preference is to use an Italian meringue, we have the equipment necessary and we have perfected our recipe using Italian meringue so it is second nature to our pastry chefs now!