Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 40 minutes Cooling Time: 1 hour 35 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
These crispy, fruity meringues are my absolute favorite simple treat. Sweet and light, they are delightfully crunchy and last for days and days. Why are they so great? Aha! I am glad you asked. It’s the magic citrus dust. Trust me. The power is in the citrus dust. And what is citrus dust? It’s my dried, roasted zest, pulverized and sparkling with fragrance and taste. I know it sounds crazy that zest could be so powerful, but the magic citrus dust absolutely blew my tester away. Ha! If you plan to make these for my Chocolate Mousse, Orange Tarragon Ice Cream and and Citrus Meringue Napoleons, double the amount of citrus dust that you make here and use it as a garnish for the assembled napoleons.
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh zest of any citrus fruit: lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, grapefruit, or Buddha’s hand (see Kitchen Tips)
8 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon (2 grams) cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
2 cups (408 grams) granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scatter the grated zest over the prepared baking sheet and spread it evenly in a thin layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until dried out. Remove from the baking sheet, transfer to a bowl, and let cool for about 5 minutes, until it has cooled completely. (You’ll notice that it has darkened and shrunk down.) Place the cooled zest into a spice grinder or coffee grinder dedicated to spices and grind until powdery. Set aside (see Kitchen Tips).
- Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F. Line 3 more rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and draw a pattern for your meringues on each piece of parchment: with a pencil or pen, trace a glass or other cylindrical item that is 3 inches in diameter to make 8 (3-inch) circles on each sheet, spacing the circles evenly. Turn the paper over so you won’t be piping the meringue onto the ink but you can still see the tracings
- In the perfectly clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a perfectly clean whisk attachment (or if you are using a handheld mixer, in a perfectly clean mixing bowl), beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar just until soft peaks form (see Kitchen Tips). With the mixer still running, add the sugar, a little at a time, until stiff peaks form, about 6 to 8 minutes in total.
- Stop the machine, add the ground, dried zest, and with a spoon or silicone spatula, fold it into the mixture very gently (see Kitchen Tips).
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round or star tip with the meringue mixture. Starting at the inside edge of one of the circles on the parchment, pipe the meringue in a spiral, filling the circle from the outside edge inward and smoothing it with an offset spatula or small knife. Repeat with the remaining meringue to fill all the circles.
- You can bake all 3 sheets at once if they fit into your oven; if not, bake 2 in the first batch and then bake the third. Bake each batch for 45 minutes; then rotate the baking sheets between the oven racks and turn them 180° from back to front. Bake for 45 minutes longer and rotate the baking sheets again. Bake for 30 minutes longer, or until the meringues are dry and crisp.
- Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in it for at least 1½ hours. Once they have completely cooled, the shells should be very dry and light.
- If you are planning to use these meringues as a base for my Chocolate Mousse, Orange Tarragon Ice Cream, and Citrus Meringue Napoleons make double the amount of citrus dust and use half for garnish. You’ll need to start with 4 tablespoons finely grated zest. Use half the dust for this recipe and save half for the assembled napoleons. (You might want to make extra citrus dust just even if you don’t make the napoleons; you’ll find another delicious use if it.)
- When beating egg whites, an impeccably clean bowl is a must; even a bit of grease can decrease their stability. Egg whites will go through several stages as you beat them. At the soft peak stage they will be glossy and foamy, retain their basic shape but will droop a bit, and won’t entirely cling to the bowl. Egg whites at the stiff peak stage will be glossy and very firm, will retain their shape and cling to the bowl. They will stand straight up from the overturned beater. Yet they will still be creamy and flexible enough to fold in with other ingredients.
- Folding is a technique for combining two mixtures of differing densities. The lighter mixture, usually egg whites or cream, is poured on top of the heavier mixture, and instead of mixing them around the bowl, the cook gently scoops some of the lighter mixture up from the bottom, catching some of the heavier mixture with it, and very gently turns the whole thing over. Folding rather than beating egg whites into a batter protects the foam and froth created during beating and, in doing so, makes the final mixture lighter and fluffier. Here’s a post and video from thekitchn.com that shows just how to do it.