Confession: I adore meringue—I even prefer it to whipped cream! To me, it's just yummier, more marshmallowy-smushy-wonderful, texture-wise. I also love it because guess how much saturated fat it contains? Zilch. Whipped cream, however? You've gotta be careful with that stuff; an innocent 2-tablespoon dollop packs in about 4 grams sat fat. That may not seem like much, but what are you putting that dollop on? Chances are it's something like pie, where there's maybe some butter in the crust, and hence more unhealthy sat fat. For me, I like to deploy the sat fat where it has the biggest impact, and that's the crust. I'll stick with my sat-fat-free meringue topping.
You'll see that strategy in play in our Pomegranate-Orange Tart with Pistachio Shortbread Crust and our equally decadent Vanilla Cake with Italian Meringue Frosting. The meringue is luscious and dreamy and allows the whole dessert to fall within prudent sat fat limits.
My favorite type of meringue is Italian meringue—made simply by whipping egg whites and cream of tartar together until foamy or till soft peaks form, then whipping in a super-hot sugar syrup which cooks the egg whites to a safe temperature. That way, you don't have to bake the meringue; you can eat it straight from the bowl! Even better, it whips up glossy and thick and shiny and perfect. Here's a quick video tutorial to show you just how easy it is.