What Is Marshmallow Meringue, And Is It The Same As Marshmallow Fluff?

As delicious as store-bought marshmallow fluff can be, it simply doesn't compare to the decadent, ethereal nature of homemade marshmallow meringue. This heavenly treat can have whatever texture you desire, from an airy cream to a delicate crunch that truly melts in your mouth. But is meringue the same as fluff? While many use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference that goes deeper than the name.

At its core, marshmallow fluff is made using two key ingredients: egg whites and sugar. The same is true of marshmallow meringue. However, like all things, it is the details that make the difference. Marshmallow fluff is a thick and creamy substance, but it doesn't always hold its shape to the extent desired. Marshmallow meringue, on the other hand, has enough firmness to allow you to more easily create simple structures, such as elegant topping swirls that hold their form when baking.

Recipe-wise, cream of tartar can be used in both meringue and fluff. It helps stabilize the egg whites so the tiny air bubbles don't collapse, deflating the fluff. However, since too much acidic cream of tartar is not desirable to your taste buds, marshmallow meringue may use gelatin to firm up the result a little more. In fact, it is gelatin that gives marshmallows their resilient shape-retaining characteristic.

Marshmallow meringue tips

The secret to making the perfect marshmallow meringue isn't in the ingredients as much as it is in the technique. For instance, you should always use fresh eggs in your recipe, as they may take longer to whip but will leave you with a more stable meringue. Also, separating eggs is easiest when they are cold, but if you have the time, let the egg whites warm up to room temperature, as that makes them whip better and faster — just don't let them sit out for more than two hours.

The most important step from here is in the beating. When you are whipping the egg whites, it is best to start slowly and gradually increase your mixer's speed throughout the process. Starting too fast or ending too slow won't give you those exquisite stiff peaks you seek. It is also important to add sugar gradually to allow it time to be absorbed — gritty is not a good texture for meringue.

If you want a little extra pizzazz, add vanilla bean paste for flavoring, or consider splashing in a hint of hue with food coloring. This is best done with gel food coloring, as it won't add any additional liquid to the mix. When mixed in judiciously, food coloring can add a tantalizing pastel shade to your marshmallow meringue, making it look as good as it tastes.