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There are certain wonderful dishes that I reserve for individual holidays, only to be served once a year.  You know, the special dishes that the whole family looks forward to throughout the year, and enjoying them during their distinctive, respective holidays makes them taste even better.  For my family, these include my famous key lime cheesecake on Shavuot, herb roasted turkey and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving, and meringues on Passover.  Meringues, the baked beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection, are light and versatile and make the perfect dessert for Passover. They require only a few, readily-found ingredients, they do not use matzo meal which aids in their lightness and renders them non-gebrokts, and they can be flavored in a variety of ways so that they don’t get boring throughout the week-long holiday.

A beaten egg white can foam to eight times its original volume, which is key to making successful meringues.  When combined with sugar both for sweetness and structure, this egg white mixture creates the foundation not only for meringues, but also for such varied desserts as pavlovas, soufflés and angel food cakes.

No-Fail Technique for Perfect Meringues

Technique is critical when making meringues, and the following tips should help you achieve success:

1.       Don’t make meringues on a rainy or humid day as the extra moisture in the air can prevent them from drying out and crisping; thus, springtime is usually a great time of year to make them.

2.       When separating your eggs, take care to avoid getting even the tiniest bit of yolk into the egg white, as the fat from the yolk interferes with egg foam structure and will ruin the meringue.

3.       Let the egg whites sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before beating; this will allow more air to be incorporated into the egg whites.

4.       Use a perfectly clean bowl (preferably stainless steel, copper or glass) in which to beat your meringues; any oil or greasy residue on the bowl can ruin the meringue.

5.       Begin beating the eggs at low speed then gradually raise the speed to high while beating the egg whites.  Add the sugar to the egg whites after they have already been beaten to soft peaks; adding the sugar earlier can prolong whipping time and reduce volume.

6.       When a recipe calls for soft peaks, the peak of the egg whites should curl down when the beaters are lifted up. When a recipe calls for stiff peaks, the peak should stand straight up and if you tilt the bowl, the mixture should not slide around.

6.       It is important to dissolve the sugar completely into the stiffly beaten egg whites in order to produce an absolutely smooth meringue.  Therefore, the sugar must be added a tablespoon at a time and beaten until thoroughly dissolved.

7.      As soon as the egg whites reach stiff peak, stop beating! If you overbeat the whites, they will turn to liquid again and you will need to start over again with new egg whites. 

The meringues I make for Passover are known as hard meringues and yield individual cookies (rather than the soft meringue which is swirled onto the top of a pie).  The cookies are baked low and slow (low oven temperature, long baking time) and left in the turned off oven until completely dry or baked until just crisp on the outside and still chewy on the inside. 

Check out some favorite meringue cookie recipes below. 

Orange Chocolate Meringue Kiss Sandwiches 

orange chocolate meringue-sandwich

Chewy German Chocolate Meringues

Chocolate Meringues

CHOCOLATE MERINGUE STARS WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE

Chocolate Meringue Stars with Raspberry Sauce

PISTACHIO MERINGUES

Pistachio Meringues

MINT CACAO NIB MERINGUES

cacao nib meringues

CHOCOLATE CHIP MERINGUES

Chocolate Chip Meringues

While we’re already whipping the egg whites, let’s talk about some other recipes that you can whip up on Pesach and year round. Instead of serving a heavy chocolate cake or seven-layer Pesach cake, why not try a fluffy and healthy angel-food cake this year? Just like meringues, the flavor options are endless and you can top your cake with a sweet glaze or fresh fruit.

ORANGE ANGEL FOOD CAKE WITH CITRUS GLAZE

Orange Angel-Food Cake with Citrus Glaze

Have a light and airy delicious Passover!