OK, we did clip out a minute here and there so you weren't looking straight into a spinning bowl of egg whites for 10 minutes straight! But this is covers the whole process from beginning to end — raw egg whites to magically fluffy and creamy meringue.
For more photos of this process see this post:
What You Need
2 or more egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons white sugar for each egg white
Stand mixer OR large bowl and hand mixer
1. Put the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Start the mixe on low speed.
2. As the whites turn opaque start adding the sugar in small increments — just a little shake at a time.
3. Continue adding the sugar, and gradually increase the speed of the mixer. You will see the egg whites turn into an opaque foam, and then a "soft plop" stage where a drizzle of the foam holds its shape on the surface of the egg whites.
4. After this, the egg whites will get to the soft peak stage, where they hold soft peaks on a spoon. They are still quite soft, and easily slump over.
5. The next stage is firm peak, where the egg whites are much glossier, with a tight surface. They hold peaks on a spoon or in the bowl, but their very tips flop over.
6. The final stage is stiff peak, where the meringue will hold almost any shape. It will form sharp, distinct points in the bowl, and it is quite stiff and glossy. It should feel smooth and silky, with no sugar grains.
• This proportion of sugar makes a soft meringue, pillowy inside — as opposed to hard and crunchy. You would need to double the sugar (4 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup, per egg white) to make a very firm cookie-style meringue. See a recipe for firm, crispy meringue cookies here:
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(Images: Faith Durand)