Meringues Chantilly is one of the most elegant desserts that you could imagine. It’s also one of the easiest desserts that you can make. Imagine light and crispy meringue shells filled with whipped cream and topped with fruit and a decadent raspberry sauce. Are you drooling yet? What’s even better is that everything can be made ahead of time!
Meringues Chantilly versus Pavlova
You’ve probably heard of Pavlova – a meringue based dessert that is filled with whipped cream and fruit. Even though it sounds like Meringues Chantilly, Pavolva is different. The meringue in Pavlova is crispy on the outside with a soft marshmallow-like center. The meringues for Meringues Chantilly are light as a cloud and crispy throughout. The main difference between the way that the two are made is the addition of cornstarch and the use of vinegar in Pavlova as opposed to cream of tartar for the Meringues Chantilly. Also, Pavlova tends to be cake-size whereas the Meringues Chantilly are individual servings. Grits and Pinecones has an excellent example of a Triple Berry Pavlova.
Ingredients for Meringue Shells
I used the following ingredients for the meringue shells: Egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Since it’s just the two of us, I only used two egg whites. However, the recipe is easily scaled up. Basically, I use 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar per egg white.
Making the Meringue for the Meringues Chantilly
I started by adding the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to a medium-sized bowl. Then, I beat the egg whites on medium speed until they were frothy. This took about a minute.
Next, I added half of the sugar. I beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks formed. This took about 5 minutes.
I’ve been making these meringue shells for as long as I can remember. A lot of recipes will call for room temperature egg whites and/or older egg whites. In addition, some recipes call for caster sugar which is superfine. I’ve found that none of these are really that important. What is important is that the bowl and beaters be totally clean. Also, it’s imperative that no egg yolk make its way into the egg whites.
Anyway, once the egg whites had reached the stiff peak stage, I added the rest of the sugar and vanilla extract. I beat the meringue for another minute or so to ensure that everything was well incorporated.
Forming the Meringue Shells
First, I drew 3-inch circles on a the underside of a piece of parchment paper. These circles served as a template for the meringue shells. Then, I placed the parchment paper on a baking sheet with the drawn circles on the underside.
Next, I transferred the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip. I piped a disc of meringue inside each circle. Then, I pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.
Baking the Meringue Shells – The Experiment
In the past, I’ve always baked the meringue shells at 200° F for 2 hours. After the two hours, I left the meringue shells in the oven overnight so that they would thoroughly dry out. I was always disappointed that the meringue shells developed a bit of a tan or yellowish color. Here’s a meringue shell that I baked at 200° F for the two hours, etc.
I really wanted the meringue shells to stay white, so I spent a little bit of time researching the issue. The consistent reason for the discolored meringue shells seemed to be that the oven was too hot.
The first thing that I did was to test my oven’s temperature to see whether it was properly calibrated. I used the Cooks Illustrated approach. With this approach, I heated my oven to 350° F for 30 minutes. Then, I filled an oven-safe measuring cup with 1 cup of water that was precisely 70° F measured with my instant read thermometer. The water out of the tap was around 74° F, so I added an ice cube to reduce the temperature to 70° F. Once the water was at 70°, I placed the measuring cup into the oven on the middle shelf for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I checked the temperature – it was 150° F. According to Cooks Illustrated, if the water temperature was 150° F give or take a degree, then the oven was properly calibrated. Therefore, the problem was not my oven calibration.
This led me to conclude that 200° F for baking the meringues was a bit too hot. Therefore, I baked the meringue shells at 175° F for 2 1/2 hours. After 2 1/2 hours, I turned the oven off and left the meringues to continue drying out overnight. The result? White meringue shells that were perfectly crisp and dried out!
Finishing the Meringues Chantilly
Before serving the Meringues Chantilly, I made some stabilized whipped cream flavored with Grand Marnier. The secret to making stabilized whipped cream is to add a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin dissolved in 4 teaspoons of hot water per cup of heavy cream that has been whipped. Stabilized whipped cream will maintain its structure for up to 24 hours!
I also made a decadent Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce – recipe is below.
Therefore, to finish the Meringues Chantilly, I piped some stabilized whipped cream into the shells. Then, I topped the whipped cream with some fresh raspberries and blueberries and spooned on the raspberry sauce. What an incredible dessert. Yum!
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- 2 extra large egg whites (See Tip 1)
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (See Tip 2)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stabilized Whipped Cream with Grand Marnier
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 4 teaspoons cold water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (See Tip 3)
Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce
- 1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh raspberries (See Tip 4)
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (See Tip 5)
- Preheat oven to 175° F. (See Tip 6)
- Draw 3-inch circles on underside of parchment paper. Place parchment paper on baking sheet, drawn circles or underside down. Set aside.
- Add egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to glass or metal bowl. Beat on medium until frothy, about 1 minute. (See Tip 7)
- Add 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla. Beat on high until well incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Transfer meringue to pastry bag fitted with 1M star tip. Pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle. Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.
- Bake in preheated 175° F oven for 2 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days or in the freezer for up to a month. Yield: 4 Meringue Shells. (See Tips 8 and 9)
- To serve, fill shells with Stabilized Whipped Cream. Top with raspberries and blueberries. Spoon on Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce.
Stabilized Whipped Cream
- Add 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to 4 teaspoons of cold water. Stir to combine; let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, heat in microwave at full power for 10 seconds or until gelatin is totally dissolved.
- Add cream and confectioners' sugar to medium size bowl. Beat on high until medium peaks form. Add dissolved gelatin and Grand Marnier. Beat until well incorporated. Can be stored covered in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce
- Place raspberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam and Grand Marnier into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Strain through wire mesh strainer to remove seeds. Chill. Yield: 1 3/4 cups.
Chula's Expert Tips
- I've consistently had good success making the meringue using cold egg whites. If in doubt however, let your egg whites come to room temperature.
- Cream of tartar is an acid. Adding it to the egg whites adds to the stability of the meringue. You can also use 1/8 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice if you don't have cream of tartar.
- You could use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in place of the Grand Marnier.
- You could also use frozen unsweetened raspberries. Don't however, use raspberries frozen in syrup.
- May use Chambord or raspberry liqueur in place of the Grand Marnier.
- If your oven cannot be set as low as 175° F, preheat it to the lowest temperature that it will go to.
- Avoid using a plastic bowl when making meringue. The reason is that plastic could contain minute amounts of oil or other items that will keep the meringue from achieving stiff peaks. Also, don't use a copper bowl if using cream or tartar or other acid. The acid will react with the copper and discolor the meringue.
- It's critical that you store the meringue shells in an airtight container. Otherwise, the meringue shells will become sticky and lose their crispness. I store my meringue shells in a Ziploc bag. To make it airtight, I seal the bag most of the way and insert a straw into the small opening. Then, I suck as much air out as I can, quickly withdraw the straw and seal the bag.
- This recipe can be easily scaled up. I use 1/4 cup of granulated sugar per 2 egg whites to produce 4 meringue shells. If you want 8 meringue shells, use 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, pinch of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.