Let's make beautiful, billowing meringues! Few treats are charming or versatile. The first task is to decide which method to use – there are a number of options. I mostly go the Swiss meringue route, which I explain below. Many people like to use the French method – in which you whisk eggs until they are nice and foamy, and gradually add granulated sugar. I wouldn't argue that this is the easiest method, but I like the Swiss meringue approach instead for several reasons.
Swiss meringue technology
To prepare Swiss meringue, always combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Heat it over a pan of boiling water until it's smooth and put the mixing bowl back in your blender. Whisk until you have a nice, bright, shiny meringue. It's pretty easy. I think cooking sugar always drives people crazy, and to get it right you should use a thermometer, but don't let that stop you.
Why Swiss meringue?
Reason number one: you don't have to think about bringing your eggs to room temperature. This is important. I always forget to pull my eggs out of the fridge. You don't have to worry about using the Swiss approach. Second, I want to be able to shape my meringue into somewhat complicated shapes (see photos). I am much more lucky with Swiss meringues. It is stiffer and holds burrs, dollops and thrives better. If you're trying to avoid blobby meringues, start here.
Key to success
1) Use a completely clean, dry one Bowl, whisk, spatula, etc. to get the most meringue volume. Any oil residue will hamper your efforts.
2) Adjust your baking time depending on whether you like a chewy or crispy meringue. Let them bake longer to make them crispier. Up to a few hours!
3) If you let your meringues bake longer, make sure that they don't take on / too much color. Ways to counteract the coloring: Carefully turn the pans, support them with a wooden spoon over the open door and move the baking sheets up or down in the oven.
4) To get a shiny sheen and texture, try not to slam the oven door or baking sheet when baking. They could break down a bit and have a crackling texture.
The recipe below is a nice basic recipe. Once you get the hang of it, play with various add-ins. I like to stir in cocoa nibs, toasted coconut flakes, saffron blooming in the almond extract, dried rose petals + rose extract, lots of mixed sesame seeds or toasted pistachios.