Perfect Meringue and Whipping Cream for the Holidays

I bet you already know there are two types of whipped cream and three kinds of meringue. Each one has its pluses and minuses, and I have favorites of both of them. For the holidays, let's just review them, share a few recipes, and you pick which one will be best for the dessert you will be making.



Meringue is made of egg white and sugar.  SImple right?  But it is very important to make this correctly, or it will not turn out as fabulously as you deserve it to be. Remember these important details:

1. Fats prevent egg whites from forming properly, so be sure your bowl and whisk are very clean, free of any traces of fat, and that there are no yolks in the eggs whites. Remember my little tip I told you a while back? Non? Okay here it is again: Like attracts like in eggs as well as in love.  So if you get some yolk in your separated egg whites, use the egg shell to get it out.  It works almost as a magnet, whereas a spoon--or your finger-- seems to repel the yolk.

2. Eggs will work best at room temperature.  Although you don't have to wait all darned day.  Just take them out and do some prep work, throw in some laundry, play with your kids/dogs/husbands. A half hour is really fine.

3. Sugar is what  gives the eggs stabilization.  Most cooks add a little cream of tartar or lemon juice (these are mild acids) because these ingredients give more volume and stability. I did not include this in these recipes as these are European recipes, but adding a scant teaspoon of cream of tartar is possible.  These particular recipes work just as well without it though.

4. Add the sugar only after you have beaten the eggs to foamy, them add it a gradually, not in a big gush.  

5. At LCB, we make the sugar about double the weight of the egg whites.  We weigh our egg whites.  We weigh everything. (I am NOT weighing myself while here, however!) At home, you probably will not do this, but remember one egg white is app 30 grams, or a smidge over 1 ounce. 


Types of Meringue

1. French Meringue

 French meringue is different from meringue you might usually make in that it is basically egg whites beaten with granulated sugar, and then powdered sugar is folded in after the egg whites have been brought to firm peaks. French meringue is the easiest to make and probably the most commonly used. You can add cocoa powder mixed with powdered sugar for a chocolate flavor. If doing your meringue this way, make the first half of your sugar--your granulated sugar- the weight of your eggs. Make the second half--the powdered you are folding in-the same weight of the granulated sugar (or also the weight of the eggs.)

2. Swiss Meringue

This type is the messiest and easiest one to goof up in my opinion.  With two other great ways to make meringue, why do this? However, maybe you will want to, so here it is... Swiss meringue is made by heating the ingredients over a hot bain marie while whipping, then taking them off when they reach 120 F (or 50C) and continuing to whip until it is at the stage you like and it is completely cool.  Heating it gives it greater volume than French meringue.

3. Italian Meringue

Leave it to the Italians to make the prettiest, shiniest meringue. Italian meringue is made by making a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar), boiling it until it reaches 243 F (117 C), then adding it to the partially beaten egg whites.  You add this syrup when the eggs are at soft peaks. Most books say to pour this extremely hot sugar syrup in while your machine is running, and that is fine if you still have your plastic cover and haven't thrown it away like I have. But I do not want to burn myself by taking a chance that the super hot, sticky sugar will spray all over the place. So I turn mine off and add it all at once, then turn my machine back on. You whisk until the meringue is cooled and firm peaks form. Italian meringue is the most stable.  Italian meringue is the best to put on top of cream pies because of this, then you can torch it with  


Whipped Cream

My husband does not like whipped cream. While I cannot fathom what in the world is wrong with him, I just look at it as more for moi.

Whipped cream is very easy, but you need to do a few things to bring it to its full glory.  Firstly make sure your cream is well chilled. Stick your bowl and whisk into the freezer while you prep. I am telling you right now that his makes all the difference!

Cream is not as finicky as egg whites, so you can add some flavorings and/or color toward the end, when you see all is well. 

Do NOT over-whip your cream or you will get butter.  It will be really delicious once you strain it, but it is definitely NOT what you are aiming for!  Remember that one quart cream produces from  2 to 21/2 quarts when whipped. 

1. Basic Whipped Cream

Cold cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla. 

2. Creme Chantilly 

My personal favorite and the kind we use at La Dolce Vita.  It is very cold cream whipped with powdered sugar instead of granulated. I like the texture the best and when whipping my cream this way, I am assured it will not be grainy.  (I actually thought I invented this procedure until I came here and found out that this is what Chantilly cream is!  I had always thought Chantilly cream was cream whipped with alcohol. Yes, I am a goober.)


Here are some recipes.  These are weighed in grams and on a scale, but I am sure you can find plenty on the internet measured in cups and teaspoons.  If you do, remember the tips I told you for pure perfection!

French Meringue

8 egg whites

150 g sugar

350 g powdered sugar

-Beat egg whites until very foamy.  Add granulated sugar slowly as you beat to firm.

-When meringue is at firm peaks, take out of mixer and hand fold the powdered sugar in, half at a time.


Swiss Meringue

8 egg whites

500 g sugar

--Cook egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a bain marie at medium high.  Whisk as they cook. When they get quite warm, pour into a mixer and continue whisking until peaks are firm and cool. They will take on volume as they cool.


Italian Meringue

8 egg whites

500 g granulated sugar

125 ml water

--Heat the sugar and water in saucepan until it boils (This is called a simple syrup for future reference.) Boil unit it reaches app 243 degrees F.

-- Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. 

--When syrup is ready, pour into machine, all at once, and whip until it forms firm peaks. 


Happy Baking!