One of three main types of meringue, French meringue is also sometimes called “common meringue.” It’s meringue at its simplest—egg whites, cream of tartar, and granulated sugar are whipped together until they become light, fluffy, thick, and aerated. Because this method doesn’t require heating the mixture, it must be baked to become safe to eat. This makes French meringue ideal for applications like meringue cookies, pavlova, or as a component to a cake. Because it isn’t heated, it’s particularly delicate and will deflate with time or excessive agitation. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until lightly foamy, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Raise the mixer speed to high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whipping until the meringue holds desired peaks (about 4-5 minutes for soft, 5 to 7 minutes for medium, 8 to 9 minutes for stiff). Add the vanilla (or other flavoring, if using) towards the end of mixing. Use immediately.
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, came out on November 10th, 2020, and my pie merch collaboration with Food52 is out now too: https://food52.com/shop/merchants/manifest-food52/food52-x-erin-mcdowell