There are basically three different methods to prepare meringue: French, Swiss and Italian. Up until last week, I had been making French Meringues as beautifully explained by Jacques Pepin in his book La Technique. I ‘ve been making meringue kisses, meringue mushrooms and meringue baskets (vacherins) using this method very successfully. Flash forward to my photo shoot. I spent a lot of time making Vacherins for the shoot. The plan was to fill them with either mixed berries or tropical fruits. The food stylist walked in and suggested that I make vacherins using the Swiss Meringue method. She said they would look better for the shoot. I quickly separated six eggs into the top of a double boiler and began the process. This method did produce much whiter and shinier meringue. It was more stable and easier to pipe than French meringue. And so we made the mini vacherins and put them in the oven. About 45 minutes later, they had set enough to fill with fruit and the shoot began. It wasn’t until after the stylist had gone that we tasted the vacherins. They were beautiful but squooshy. I could pinch them together with my fingers and they stuck in your teeth. Many people enjoy this texture of meringue. I’m not one of them; so I proceeded to make the meringues again and time them to see how long they would take to become crisp. After two hours in the oven at 180 Degrees F., they were still tender. I left them in a turned off oven. About three hours later, they were fully dried out and crisp. It was a very rainy day; so I left them in the oven overnight to protect them against the humidity. I had dozens of mini vacherins ready to be filled with diced fruit with or without a dollop of lemon curd and/or whipped cream.
These vacherins are beautiful and sturdy. They are easier to make and definitely not as fragile as their French cousin. Neither the Swiss nor the French Meringue should be a last minute thought. Give yourself the time to make them and let them dry out. You and your guests will enjoy a wonderful treat. Try both recipes and see which one you prefer. You can’t go wrong with either.
Prep time: 30-45 minutes
Swiss Meringue Vacherins
By March 24, 2015Published:
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- double boiler
- electric mixer whisk attached
- pastry bag, decorating tip and coupler I used a #106 star tip
- cookie sheet lined with baking parchment