Long before the invention of electricity and electric mixers, bakers and chefs used their arms, the original "hand mixers," to whip cream, blend ingredients and beat eggs. With the right preparation and a strong arm you, too, can make meringues without the aid of kitchen appliances.
Wash and dry the whisk, bowls and measuring spoons to make sure they are clean and grease-free. Any speck of grease will make the egg whites lose their will to rise.
Measure the sugar and cream of tartar into small bowls in the amounts called for in your recipe so they are ready to add into the whites while you beat them.
Separate egg yolks and whites into separate bowls, one egg at a time. Inspect the whites to make sure no yolks have slipped in before transferring them to the larger mixing bowl. Add any yolk-tainted whites to the other yolks and save them, covered, in the refrigerator for breakfast or a different recipe.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites. Beat the egg whites rapidly and continuously until foamy. Use a stirring and flipping motion to pass the eggs through the wires of the whisk and incorporate as much air as possible with each beat. Don't try to beat the whites to death by brute force -- the whisk will do most of the work for you.
Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar dissolves before adding another tablespoon. Rub the whites between your fingers to make sure the mixture is smooth, indicating the sugar has dissolved.
Continue beating until the egg whites are glossy and smooth and stay in stiff peaks when you lift the whisk.
Form and bake the meringues.
Things You'll Need
Large wire whisk
Large glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl
Cream of tartar
4 small bowls
Do not use a plastic mixing bowl, which will prevent the egg whites from becoming stiff. To make separating eggs easier, use fresh, chilled eggs. Caster sugar dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. Make your own by pulsing white sugar in a blender or food processor until it is super-fine without being powdery. Add "humidity" to the list of meringue enemies. Unless you have air conditioning, don't make meringues on a humid day. It will be too hot to cook, anyway.
Some recipes recommend bringing the egg whites to room temperature to reduce beating time, but this may promote bacterial growth if the eggs aren't pasteurized. The meringues may not be baked at a high enough temperature to kill all microorganisms, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends using chilled eggs instead or heating the unbeaten whites on the stove to 140 F for 3 1/2 minutes, maintaining a constant temperature so the whites don't congeal.