Apologies – this post may take a while with all the collected tips and tricks. Post coming up soon!
Still remember the first time I made meringue. This was before the era of Youtube and picture tutorials. I was in middle school, excited to have an oven for the first time, and attempting a Pandan cake. Back then I did not own an electric mixer yet. The recipe said to whip egg whites to firm peaks, and back then I didn’t even know that egg whites can be separated and whipped into foamy consistencies. That said, it was a hilarious failure that lead from Pandan chiffon cake to a Pandan kueh.
For now, Cupcake Jemma has a great guide on making the perfect meringue, with a video tutorial here. For me, I know when a meringue is ready when I can flip a bowl upside down over my head and it stays in place. By now you can get a Kewpie baby like peak with your whisk when you lift it off. Another way is to rub it between your hands – it should no longer feel gritty from the sugar.
For best stability, beat the egg whites at slow speed initially, and build up gradually. If it’s whipped at too high of a speed, yes it may foam up quickly, but the air pockets will be too large and unstable, and may cause hollows in your macarons or uneven cracks. There’s a risk of splitting as well, if you had added the sugar at the wrong time. When its done, return back to a slow and steady speed. This will get rid of any large air pockets and create a stable, even, perfectly fluffy meringue.
If your meringue didn’t even whip up properly in the first place, make sure you always start with dry and clean tools, free from water, or egg yolks, or detergent- all these will affect the quality of the meringue. Also make sure to foam up the meringue to soft peaks before adding in the sugar. Some like to add in spoonful by spoonful, some dump the whole thing in – I personally find not much difference – both will whip up nicely, though I suppose adding in one go may potentially deflate the initial egg white stability. And as long as you use it at the appropriate consistency (not overwhipped), and don’t let it sit out too long, you should be fine. The other tips and tricks are more for refining meringue techniques.