How to make meringue icing (seven minute meringue frosting)

This meringue frosting (or icing) i a nice, light alternative to ganache or buttercream (although there is a buttercream version which is deliciously sinful).  It’s slightly similar to Italian Meringue in that the egg whites are ‘cooked’, and it forms a nice, stable easily-piped, fluffy icing which keeps its shape well and is beautifully white (which also means it holds paste colours well and keeps true, should you wish to colour your icing).

If you use light brown sugar (as I’ve done to top these dark chocolate fairy cakes, topped with fudge pieces), it imparts a gentle, toffee flavour into the icing. You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or other flavourings, but wait until the end and briefly beat it in (I think rose would be lovely, with a delicate pink colouring paste).  Be careful of adding too much liquid, as this will mess with your quantities.

You will need:

2 large free range egg whites

225g caster sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

75ml water

So basically just pop all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl, place the bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water (as always with a bain marie, don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl) and whip the bejaysus out of it for, suprise surprise, seven minutes.  A word of warning, though, if at the seven minute mark, your icing isn’t really thick, glossy and standing up in stiff peaks, keep going.  Also, be careful to get the whisk right to the bottom of the bowl and around the edges, otherwise you can get lumpy bits.

Once the icing has reached this stage, take it straight off the hot water and pop it straight into the icing bag (or spread onto your cake).  As it cools it will set a little, so use it straight away.

Happy swirling!

31 replies
    • English Mum
      English Mum says:

      Ti, yes you could be right actually – I call both methods Italian meringue, as it involves cooking the sugar – I didn’t realise the other one had a different name. Maybe this is more of an American term? Thanks for pointing this out!

      Reply
  1. lizzie
    lizzie says:

    Hi I was wondering if I could use left over frosting to make mini meringues and would I cook these in the oven like normal meringues

    Reply
  2. Fiona
    Fiona says:

    Can this be used to icing a wedding cake? My daughter likes the idea it. Could it just be spread smoothly over the outside of a cake.

    Also what the recipe for the buttercream version

    Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Yolande
    Yolande says:

    Hi can I use this meringue on lemon meringue pie and still use a kitchen blowtorch like when I am making the normal egg white lemon meringue?

    Reply
  4. fariz
    fariz says:

    Hi, ive just tried this just now, but the cooked icing does not hold its shape very well, but it looks good, shiny and glossy except is too runny. I did reduced the sugar from 225g to less than 200g instead, just to make it less sweet. Does this has anything tto do with the runny condition? Also i used the small eggs, nbut this dont give any problem with the other recipe i tried before, which uses 2 egg whites, 150g sugar, a pinch of cream of tartar(which i omitted it for both of recipes), 1/3 cup water. The first recipe i tried comes out perfectly. Or maybe the cooking time or temperature maybe? Thanks.

    Reply
    • English Mum
      English Mum says:

      Hi Fariz

      Hmmm it’s difficult to say – it could be that you reduced the quantities or it could just be that you didn’t whip it for long enough. The cream of tartar is in there for a reason and it’s best if you don’t omit it as it good for stabilising the egg white. I’ve found this one to be pretty consistent when the quantities are as listed x

      Reply
  5. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Have you ever made or heard of chocolate meringue icing? My mother in law is asking for a white cake, and I thought a swoopy meringue icing would be nice, but want a chocolate one, so it’s not white on white. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • English Mum
      English Mum says:

      Hey Sorcha

      I haven’t tried, but wouldn’t have said so as it starts to set as it cools, so you’ll probably end up with a big block of hard icing when you defrost it x

      Reply
  6. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Ok I jst tried it – makes a bigger quantity than you would think! Total success except I didnt put enough in the piping bag quickly enough so when I refilled the bag it wasnt quite so smooth at the end – lesson learned!!

    Reply
  7. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Thanks for the reply! Can I ask, when you say heat proif bowl – can I use a metal bowl? How does a heat proof bowl let the heat through? X

    Reply
  8. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Hi, wondering how firm this icing sets? I’m sure I have seen cupcakes with meringue piped on the top then the top dipped in melted chocolate? Also does it need to be refridgerated once piped onto the cakes? X

    Reply
    • English Mum
      English Mum says:

      Hi Lynne – it keeps its shape well and ‘sets’ on the outside but is still quite squishy. No, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but they obviously don’t last too long as the sponge doesn’t stay fresh x

      Reply
  9. Jenny Mulhall
    Jenny Mulhall says:

    Ah, this is one of my ‘old reliables’, although I’m managing to fit cream cheese frosting into every damn cake I make at the minute. Mmmmmmm… Cream Cheeeeese…:P

    PS: ‘bejaysus’. LOL! You can take the girl out of Ireland… x

    Reply
  10. HELEN
    HELEN says:

    wow, thanks for this…I always thought it was really tricky so I’ve never attempted it but I will now…cream of tartar on this weeks shopping list!

    Reply

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