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How to make Italian meringue

Italian meringue takes a little effort to make. It can be used for smooth buttercream icing and crisp but chewy meringue nests. You will need a sugar thermometer.

Using an electric hand mixer, begin by beating four egg whites until they form stiff peaks. They should stand up straight when the whisk is removed.

Next make a sugar syrup by mixing 225g/8oz of sugar with six tablespoons of water. Stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise it will turn the sugar syrup grainy. When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a fast boil until it reaches 120C/250F.

As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk. Be careful not to pour the hot syrup directly onto the beaters, as it may stick to them or splash back at you.

When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff. Allow to cool completely before using.

Cover with clingfilm until ready to use. Italian meringue can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.

See recipe in full

Coffee and chestnut meringue cake

By James Martin

Recipes using this technique

Desserts

Cakes and baking

Skill level

Intermediate

Equipment you will need for this technique

  • electric mixer
  • sugar thermometer

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