Pizza Meringues: Should Savory Meringues Be a Thang?
When life gives you lemons, you could make lemonade. OR you can make lemon meringue pie! And when life gives you pizza, you can always eat the pizza—OR you could make pizza meringue cookies, and why not?
Well, we gotta say, there are a few good reasons why pizza flavored meringue cookies might be best left unmade. The most pertinent reason: pizza meringues are just plain weird—about as weird as they sound. Sweet, fluffy meringue and salty, meaty, basil-y pizza flavors just don’t mix super well. (Who’d a thunk it?)
But, we tried it anyway because this is Eat The Pizza, and we never shrink in the face of weirdness. You can witness the folly of our pizza flavored meringue cookies in our latest episode, and we’ve got the recipe for you here as promised. Although, we gotta say, we don’t recommend it. Thank you all for this weird culinary opportunity, but sweet AND savory meringues are just a no-go!
HOWEVER: if you’ve got time on your hands and are feeling adventurous... We would recommend modifying our pizza meringues recipe to make strictly SAVORY meringue cookies instead: nix the sugar and stick with just egg whites, cheese, and the pizza fixins! No clue if that’ll work, but isn’t that half the fun of it?
You can find the recipe below, and along the way learn what the heck meringue is anyway.
What is Meringue and What Does it Taste Like?
If you’ve ever wondered “what in the world is meringue?” you’re not alone. Meringue is as mysterious as it is mystifying—because it can be so many things! You may have seen the light, fluffy, marshmallow-meets-whipped-cream-like stuff on top of a lemon meringue pie, flambeed atop baked Alaska, baked into tiny, crisp cookies, or even as icing piped atop a humble cupcake.
At its core, meringue is pretty simple: sugar + egg whites, whipped/beaten together to form a light and airy concoction, that looks and tastes like a sugar cloud. When you get it right, it’s a total delight! But, if there’s even one minor flaw in the preparation, you’re sunk...
Simple as it sounds, meringue can be a fickle beast, with a delicate and fragile structure that relies on a complex series of chemical interactions—too complex for us to understand. And, there’s not just one way to meringue. In fact, there are three main types of meringue, each made and used differently: French, Swiss & Italian.
3 Ways to Meringue
- known as a ‘basic meringue,’ this is the most well-known variety of meringue and the easiest for the everyday home chef to make (and what we’d intended for our pizza flavored meringue cookies to turn out like...)
- light, dry, and crisp in texture.
- made with granulated or fine white (a.k.a. castor) sugar, beaten into whipped egg whites until they form stiff, shiny peaks.
- often dolloped into shapes and baked, but also used can be used for homemade meringue pies.
- you may have come across French meringues in a bakery—they look like round dollops of baked icing, often called meringue cookies and sold as a sweet finger-food treat!
- an equally delicious but less common meringue among home chefs, mainly because it’s a bit trickier to make than French meringue.
- dense, glossy, and marshmallow-y in texture.
- made by dissolving sugar and egg whites together over simmering water, while beating/whisking constantly until it cools.
- usually baked onto pies or other confections, and also commonly used as a base for buttercream icings.
- another trickier meringue that’s less common among home chefs, but a favorite among professional bakers and culinary wizards.
- soft, fluffy, airy, and spreadable.
- able to maintain its shape without collapsing, and doesn’t need to be baked or cooked (although it can be).
- made by boiling sugar into a hot syrup, then slowly beating the sugar syrup into whipped egg whites until stiff peaks form and the meringue becomes cool.
- commonly used as a dessert topping on pies, baked Alaska, or other baked treats; sometimes bruleed (a.k.a. browned with a torch) rather than baked; often used as a base for French macaroons, as well as icings.
Where Did ‘Meringue’ Come From?
Like many a strange culinary innovation, meringue has a history, tracing back to the early 1600s in England. And the first meringues actually weren’t called ‘meringue’—that term didn’t emerge until much later, in a French cookbook in 1692.
But in 1604, before meringue was even ‘meringue,’ Lady Elinor Poole Fettiplace (a real person, we’re told) was whipping up the sweet, fluffy stuff. She wrote the first recipe for what we’d probably now call a Swiss meringue, but back then she named it “white biskit bread.” (Perhaps because it was fluffy like a biskit?) Despite the sheer creativity of this name from Lady Fettiplace’s brain, it sadly didn’t catch on. But the meringue naming game didn’t stop there.
A bit later in that same century, also in England, Lady Rachel Fane of Kent had a collection of recipes with a meringue-like confection that she named “pets.” (Again, perhaps due to the fluffiness?) And even though the name ‘meringue’ now reigns supreme, ‘pets’ at least caught on in one area of the world. In the Loire region of France, slowly baked meringues are still called “pets” even today, because of their light and fluffy texture. (We knew it!)
As to the ACTUAL origins of the term ‘meringue’ itself? Nobody’s really sure. The fluffy treat was once believed to have been invented in and so named after the Swiss village of Meiringen, but that old theory has been challenged. Now etymologists have come to think the name comes from the Middle Dutch word meringue, meaning a “light evening meal.” Which means ‘pizza meringue’ would likely translate to “a light evening meal of weirdly cheesy, meaty sugar clouds,” or something.
Got a Hankering for Weirdly Pizza-Flavored Sweet Treats?
If you’re into that kinda thing, these pizza-dessert hybrids are right up your alley:
- Pizza Donuts
- Mozzarella-cheese-based Pizza Ice Cream
- Pizza Fudge
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pizza
- Dessert Pizza Challenge
- Jello Fruit Pizza
- Apple Pie Pizza Pie
If You Like It, Then You Shoulda Put Meringue on It
Like we said, pizza flavored meringue cookies are not for everyone—including us. Sure, we successfully achieved the goal of ‘pizza meringues: they’re sweet, floofy, and meringue-y, with a savory pizza taste. But, they’re just not quite sweet enough, and the basil-y pizza flavors were WAY more potent than we anticipated.
At the end of the day, this marriage just wasn’t meant to be. Best to keep your sweet meringues all the way sweet and pizza-free. Or, take the SAVORY meringues route and try our pizza flavored meringue cookies recipe without the sugar!
It may or may not work, may or may not taste good—but if you’re the kind of Pizza Freak who‘s eager to give this a whirl, let us know how it goes.
- 4 eggs, whites only
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- ~1 Tbsp tomato sauce
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tbsp pepperoni, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).
- Separate egg whites from yolks and set yolks aside. Be sure yolks do not break and that there is no trace of yolk in your whites.
- Using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or simply by hand, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Add sugar, a small squeeze of lemon juice, and tomato sauce and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. You’ll know the peaks are stiff when you can lift the bowl and turn it upside-down over someone’s head, but your meringue mixture doesn’t fall.
- Gently fold in cheese and toppings until integrated—but don’t overmix! (It’s best to do this by hand.)
- Spoon out clumps of pizza meringue mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet—it’s fine if they’re messy! They won’t expand in the oven, but do your best to make them equal in size so they’ll cook evenly. (Using a cookie scoop helps with portioning.)
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave meringues inside for about 1 hour, so they can continue to dry.
- Remove from oven and now it’s time to eat the pizza meringues, if you dare.
Yields ~20 pizza flavored meringue cookies that you may or may not want to eat.