How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues

The picnic is the epitome of springtime in France - and what better way to add flair to your own picnic than with home-made meringues? Ariana Barkin, a Paris-based pastry chef from the US, shares her own recipe with The Local.

How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Within an hour, you could make meringues like these yourself. Photo: Ariana Barkin

This classic technique is versatile, easy to colour, flavour, and garnish with endless possibilities. The meringue is a technique that is often used to construct more gourmand recipes but the meringue is equally as delightful on its own. The recipe I’m sharing applies to the Swiss method. 

This method involves cooking the whites before baking the meringue, which results in a more stable finished product, (compared to the French method, which is a raw meringue preparation). The Swiss meringue is a structured shell with a gooey to dry interior (the longer you leave the meringue in the oven, the more the centre dries).

This recipe is for rose and pistachio meringues, two-ways: one a plain meringue garnished with crystalized rose petals and nibbed pistachio, and the other a rose flavoured meringue garnished with nibbed pistachio. The combination is fresh and fragrant, as is spring in Paris.  


Yields approximately 50 4-centrimetre-diameter meringues

Preparation: 20-30 minutes

Cooking: 30-40 minutes

Keep: meringues keep for a few days in an airtight container


For the meringue:

4 egg whites

200 g sugar

a few drops of lemon juice*

Rose extract 

Red or pink food coloring


To garnish:

Nibbed, raw pistachios

Crystalized rose petals


Meringues, at the heart of French pastry, do not require many ingredients, but preparing your workspace is crucial.

1.     First warm your bain marie. Place a shallow frying pan over a low heat, fill halfway with water, and place one sheet of paper towel (this will maintain the stability of the bowl while mixing). Next, prepare two trays by lining with parchment paper. Ensure all bowls and utensils are clean; fat residue can inhibit the meringue from forming.    

2.     In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Whisk in the sugar and lemon juice. Place over the bain marie and continue to whisk until warm to the touch. Your meringue will be thick and glossy. Remove from the heat and whisk until room temperature. Whisking by hand or with an electric-mixer, your meringue should reach medium-stiff peaks; the stiffer the meringue, the better it will hold its shape while piping.

3.     Fit two piping bags with a plain, 1cm nozzle. Spoon half of the mixture to one piping bag.  Pipe circles, or other desired shape, to prepared tray. Sprinkle crystalised rose petals and nibbed pistachio to half of each meringue. With the remaining mixture, flavour by adding rose extract until you achieve a faint fragrance (I use 6 drops for 135g of meringue, but the amount used depends on the extract and the amount of meringue) and red or pink food coloring. Place the rose meringue to a fitted piping bag and pipe to the second tray.  Sprinkle nibbed pistachio to half of each meringue.

4.     Bake meringues at 100C for 30 to 40 minutes. The meringues are done when they remove easily and clean from the tray.

Bon appétit! 

*The addition of the lemon juice is optional. The acid from the lemon juice will help to sustain the volume of the meringue.

Ariana Barkin

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Recipe: Beat the French butter shortage by making your own

As shops across France are finding it more and more difficult to keeps their shelves stocked with butter, why not take the matter into your own hands and make your own? Here's the recipe.

Recipe: Beat the French butter shortage by making your own
Photo: Will Keightley/Flickr
The consequences of France running out of butter could be pretty catastrophic. 
And while we aren't there quite yet, with French newspaper Le Figaro describing the shortage as “the worst since the Second World War” and supermarket shelves looking increasingly empty, it might be time to start taking matters into your own hands.
Luckily, it's really simple. Here's how:
1. Ingredients
To make unsalted butter, the only ingredient you need is whole cream (40 percent fat).
If you're making slightly salted butter, you'll also need salt crystals. 

Oh la vache: France suffers from shortage of butter

Photo: AFP

2. Recipe
Beat the cream using an electric mixer. 
At first it will look like whipped cream but if you keep beating eventually it will reach the consistency of butter. 
This should take less than ten minutes. 
If you're using salt, add the crystals as you are whipping. 
Remove the butter and put it in a sieve, pushing it down with a spatula to ensure any excess milk is removed. 
Store the butter in a tub. 
Watch the recipe in action below. 

3. Tips
Use a stainless steel salad bowl that has been cooled in the freezer for the best results. 
Et voila! Once you've got the hang of it, you could even spread it on a tartine and sell it online like some other entrepreneurial spirits have started doing.
If you have your own recipes for making butter, please share them in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.