Crunchy meringues. Something magical happens while glossy peaks of meringue slowly dry out in the heat of the oven that makes the cookie give way with a crunch before dissolving into sweet nothingness on your tongue. This perfection eluded me for ages until some three or so weeks ago when I shared with you crispy crunchy meringues.
Since then, I’ve been asked about other possibilities that include making these with agave nectar instead of honey as well as flavourings and variants such as chocolate chip. (We’ll get to that soon; I’m working on it.)
For purposes of making meringue SCD, I found that it’s best to make Italian meringue in which a hot syrup is added to softly whipped egg whites and beaten till stiff. It’s choice for those who are following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or are avoiding refined sugar in general and use honey as a sweetener.
I’ve tried making meringue with honey in its natural state and have not had exactly satisfactory results with it as honey is a humectant, which means that it holds moisture. Honey is also heavier than whipped egg whites and it would make it difficult to sufficiently fold it in without fear of deflating the egg whites.
In my recipe, the meringue is made with a hot syrup using just honey and water and pouring that into soft peak egg whites, beating until stiff. Italian meringue is similar to candy making, specifically marshmallows, so it is more involved and needs precision. Despite being more involved, however, its execution is easy.
Two weeks ago I had been religiously checking the weather forecast – after incessant rain, there was one day that promised sunshine. Admittedly, there was more than one day that was dry but everyone was held in suspense, anxious for snow (and it did snow, becoming slush by morning). I was on a mission to make meringue: crunchy, crisp meringue that could only be worthy of praise and met with approval and always makes you reach for just one more, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
Normally I am not so finicky about weather conditions and baking, but I was serious about getting my meringue right after reading and researching countless hours about meringue, which included writing a thousand-something-word article on the very subject and technique that took me a week to write, edit, and rewrite (and repeat). Yes, I am serious. As I wrote that article and the accompanying recipe, what I’m sharing here with you today and which was as of then simply a recipe in theory – not yet tested – I thought that perhaps I was getting ahead of myself and that I was starting to twist facts to suit my theory (or perhaps I’ve just read too much Sherlock Holmes). It took much personal effort to not write any further, especially recipe writing, until I had made the meringue myself.
I had decided upon an Italian meringue, in which a hot syrup is poured into softly beaten egg whites and beaten to stiff peaks. It’s similar to making marshmallows and it is now, I believe, the best way to make meringue for those of us who don’t use refined sugar since honey in its natural state does not fold well into soft or stiff egg whites.