I first learned to make meringues in Paris some twenty years ago. And while I’ve modified the recipe somewhat, it’s still one I use often. I love whipping egg whites and sugar into billowy clouds that bake into lighter-than-air crisp confections. I can pipe different shapes and add flavorings as I please, and I can keep the meringues for weeks in airtight containers.
Before you start, remember two important things. First, your bowl and beater should be impeccably clean. Any speck of grease will keep the egg whites from expanding properly. A quick rinse with a little white vinegar and some water will do the trick. Be sure to dry the equipment well. Second, your ingredients should be at room temperature to get the best volume out of your meringue. Since it’s easier to separate whites from yolks when they’re cold, go ahead and separate your eggs straight out of the refrigerator. Then let your whites warm to room temperature in a bowl, or put the bowl over warm water to speed the process.
After filling your pastry bag, you’re ready to pipe and bake. To pipe, squeeze gently with the hand that holds the top of the bag. Use your other hand to guide the tip. Practice piping on a sheet of parchment, and then line baking sheets with parchment and pipe shapes until you’ve used all the meringue. This meringue makes lovely little cookies in a variety of sizes and shapes. Don’t worry if the shapes aren’t perfect — bake them all anyway; they’ll be delicious. If you’re aiming for consistency, use a template and a pencil to draw circles or other shapes on the parchment to guide your piping.