This Is The Trick To Making Meringue, According To Ina Garten

Considering they're only held together by egg whites, sugar, and air, it makes sense why meringues are hard to master. Add too much of one ingredient or not quite enough of another, and you could have yourself a baking disaster. But according to celebrity chef and cookbook author Ina Garten, that's only half of the challenge (via Barefoot Contessa).

As she explained on the "Ask Ina" section of her website, there's a chance all your hard work could go to waste as soon as you put it in the oven. If your meringue has the right texture and the right taste but has too brown of a tinge, that means it's overdone. "The problem is either that the temperature was too high or the meringue was in the oven too long," Garten wrote in response to a fan that asked how to get their meringue coloring right. While an over-browned meringue isn't nearly as disastrous as a fully-burned meringue, it's not exactly ideal if you want your dessert to look as good as it tastes.

Watch your meringue like a hawk

Demonstrating the proper technique for whisking egg whites into a meringue on an episode of "Barefoot Contessa," Ina Garten stressed paying close attention to the gradual changes in the texture, from the point the sugar dissolves, until the glossy, stiff peaks form. Garten recommends being just as attentive to the texture while the meringue is sitting in the oven. Though it might be tempting to set a timer and wait for the oven to do the work, "The trick with meringues is to keep an eye on them," Garten advised on her website's "Ask Ina" section. "Unfortunately they can go from perfectly baked to overdone very quickly!" If you want to get your meringue right, see it through until the very end.

They might be high-maintenance, but meringues certainly make for some of the most eye-catching and delicious desserts, all of which fill the pages of Garten's ever-growing collection of cookbooks. Once you nail the technique, there's a whole realm of culinary possibilities in store — and plenty of lemon meringue pies in your future.