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Different Types of Meringue and Weeping

Asked by luluroberts. Answered on 5th March 2011

Full question

Hi I made my merengue the swiss or italiian not quite sure!! by melting the sugar in a little water until it boiled.Then added slowly to the egg whites. All was brilliant until when it was nearly cooked in the oven. Then a clear sticky liquid started to leak from the merengue and continued to do so when cooling. What did i do wrong??? Cheers Lulu x

Our answer

There are 3 types of meringue, the one made most commonly at home is French meringue which is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites. Swiss meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar together over a pan of hot water until the sugar has dissolved, then beating until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Italian meringue is made by whisking a hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites - it is the most difficult to make but is popular with bakers and caterers as it tends to hold its volume well.

If your meringue is weeping it is most likely that your sugar syrup was not boiled to the correct temperature before adding to the egg whites. You need a sugar (candy) thermometer to monitor the temperature of the sugar syrup and it needs to be cooked to soft ball stage (120c or 248F) before it is added to the whites. The egg whites also need to be beaten to stiff peaks before the syrup is added and your egg whites may not have been whisked enough.

For a lemon meringue pie a French type meringue should be fine for the topping and the pie is best on the day it is made. Any meringue topping for a lemon meringue pie will tend to weep after a day or so as the pie needs to be kept in the fridge and the slightly humid environment of the fridge plus the damp surface of the lemon filling will cause some of the sugar in the meringue to liquefy and seep out.

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