A good meringue is a beautiful thing; light as air, every bite a cloud of sweetness.
Rugged on the outside with airy interiors, the delicate shell gives way to a fluffy tender melt-in-your-mouth center. Deceptively simple, these ingenious little cookies are so much more than the sum of their parts and a timeless classic.
At its most basic, meringue is a combination of egg whites and sweetener in a ratio of 1:2 but the fun comes in the little extras that take a somewhat plain jane cookie to the ranks of delicious confection. A shower of shaved chocolate, a splash of good vanilla or rum, or a few pinches of cinnamon are all good contenders.
Now there are three different ways to conquer egg whites and make meringue: French, Swiss and Italian.
The French method is perhaps the most common and consists of slowly adding spoonfuls of sweetener to egg whites while simultaneously whipping until a smooth and glossy texture emerges. Italian on the other hand involves a cooked sugar syrup poured into egg whites, but Swiss is the method I chose for this recipe because of its stability and ease.
Here’s the general idea: maple syrup replaces traditional white sugar making these particular meringues entirely refined sugar free and a more wholesome option than traditional ones. It also adds a richness of flavor and pale amber hue while the cinnamon gives a bit of spice.
The egg whites and maple syrup are gently heated over a pot of simmering water before being whipped until stiff and shiny then generously scooped onto baking sheets, topped with chopped almonds, a pinch of sea salt and left to dry in a rather cool oven for about 2 hours (meringues aren’t so much baked as they are dried out.)
The result is a sheet full of large, somewhat misshapen clusters that are ethereally light and utterly addicting.
Have you ever made meringue?