It has been the perfect end-of-summer, holiday weekend. The weather has been glorious -- warm, dry days and cool, good-for-sleeping nights. And I've been spending all of my time in the kitchen, which isn't a bad thing. One day, it was all about pastry. I made everyone's favorite -- a lemon meringue tart. And the meringue was so billowy and beautiful, I just had to photograph it. This is what I consider a basic meringue (or French meringue). It is made by whipping the egg whites and slowly adding sugar. Swiss or Italian meringues involve heating the egg whites or making a cooked sugar syrup that is whipped into the egg whites and are considered a "stable" meringue. The basic meringue is what I use to top my lemon or chocolate pudding tarts.
I start by placing 5 egg whites, at room temperature, in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and start beating with a whisk attachment. Once frothiness has been achieved, slowly start adding 1/2 cup granulated sugar and a large pinch of cream of tartar. Continue to beat at high speed until the egg whites just begin to hold stiff peaks. Do not overbeat or the whites will become dry and start to separate. Mound the billowy, cloud-like meringue onto the tart and bake in a preheated 375˚F oven. I will not give you a length of bake time. Stand guard at the oven door and keep an eye on the browning meringue. Pull when it looks as it does above.