Monkeying with Meringue

So I baked a banana pudding the other day to take to a party. The meringue tore when I took it out of the oven. I put a spoon in the tear to make it look like the spoon had done it, but that just made the meringue split completely in two.

Someday I will learn to accept gracefully baking’s small disappointments, but it wasn’t going to be that day. I projected my anger on to John by freaking when he got too close to the fender of another car as he parked. I apologized later. He said, “You had pudding rage.”

And I did.

It’s worth knowing what I screwed up, because I love meringues. Meringue adds beauty and structure to a pie, but relatively few calories and no fat.

Besides yelling at my spouse, here is what I did wrong: over baked the pudding, cooled it too fast and mixed too few egg whites for the size dish I used. Like a lot of beautiful things that are low in calories and fat, a meringue can be as moody as a drag queen in a monsoon, so these mistakes were bound to take their toll.

Actually making meringue is easy.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar and two pinches of cream of tartar in small bowl and set aside.

In a very clean non-reactive bowl (stainless steel, glass or copper) place four room temperature egg whites (no yolks) and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form (soft peaks flop over, stiff peaks donโ€™t).

Continue beating and add sugar/COT mixture one tablespoon at a time.

Continue beating until egg whites reach stiff peak stage.

Spread meringue on WARM filling all the way to the edge of the crust or dish to seal it.

Bake a meringue at a low temp (325 degrees) in the middle of the oven with plenty of headroom for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Let it cool completely there.

My mistakes? I was in a hurry so I cooled the pudding on top of the stove. I used a recipe for three egg whites instead of four (from now on I’ll use a four egg meringue recipe no matter what the recipe calls for), and I left it in the oven a little too long, which also caused the meringue to weep.

I know. It sounds like a disaster. I tried to sneak in when we arrived so no one would see me lay the pudding down. Somehow it was still the first dessert to go. I guess a lot of people really love banana pudding.


8 Responses to “Monkeying with Meringue”

  1. May 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Now would that be pronounced “ma-rang” or “ma-rang-gay” as in the Manilow hit, “she would meringue, and do the cha-cha.” Either way, I bet the pudding was good.

  2. 2 crystal
    May 22, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    love moody as a drag queen ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. May 22, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I think meringue is so pretty, but for some reason I’ve never enjoyed eating it. I slide it off to the side and add a plop of Cool Whip if it’s available.

  4. 4 Eric
    May 23, 2008 at 1:41 am

    I just love John. And the way you tell any story.

  5. 5 bethbates
    May 25, 2008 at 3:22 am

    You’re so cute, Troy. And “pudding rage?” Love that guy.

  6. 6 George
    May 25, 2008 at 3:36 am

    I have never had much luck with meringue. Mine always turns out to be a wreck. I have read all sorts of tips, including that you should spread and bake it when the filling is warm, but my butterscotch pie recipe tells me I have to cool the filling in the refrigerator, and if I don’t, it gets all runny. So I have to weigh the options– firm butterscotch/bad meringue vs. sloppy butterscotch/better-but-still-not-good meringue. What I usually end up with is a rubber-like concoction that weeps, separates from the edge of the crust, and sometimes slides off. Now I will have to try your method, which sounds different than anything I have tried. All my recipes call for you to bake your meringue under the broiler for a very brief time (don’t take your eyes off it!), so maybe this “slow-bake” method will be just what I need. . . .

    Maybe sometime you can have a “bake-in” and teach me what I need to know. Then I can get all frustrated and honked off and project my pudding rage and Clinton rage onto you. (Dangerous!)

  7. June 2, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Pudding rage has me in stitches. I needed to read this today. I don’t care for eating meringue but I do love dressing my pie with it. Its beautiful and everyone ooo’s and ahhh’s over it. Now if I’m in a hurry that new fancy spray can of Cool Whip is so going to be it for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. 8 Jason
    June 3, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    My wife’s Grandma Shultz was the best baker I’ve ever known. Beth once asked her grandma to teach her how to make a beautiful meringue like she always did. Her grandma’s response was: “Oh honey, I can’t teach you that in an afternoon, it takes a lifetime to perfect meringue!” Enjoy perfecting yours, Troy.

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