These sweetly crisp meringues are a standard accompaniment of thick Gruyeres cream, a little like crème fraiche, but not quite as tart tasting.  They’re one of the obligatory desserts of the annual harvest feast called La Benichon which takes place every October throughout the countryside in Canton Fribourg where the old town of Gruyeres is a treasured attraction.  The recipe here is an approximation because normally the meringues are baked in a wood-burning oven and unfortunately the cream is not exported.  


4 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided use


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sour cream

  1. For the meringues, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees with convection if possible.
  2. Half fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil on medium heat.  Combine the egg whites, vinegar, salt, vanilla, and 2/3 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to mix.  Set the bowl of the pan of boiling water and whisk gently until the egg whites are hot and the sugar is dissolved, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Place the bowl on the mixer with the whish attachment and whim on medium/high speed until the meringue is risen in volume and still creamy textured.  Over whipping will make the meringue dry and ruin the texture of the baked meringues.
  4. Fold in the remaining 2/3 cup sugar using a large rubber spatula.
  5. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tube and pipe out 3- to 4-inch pointed ovals of the meringue on cookie sheets covered with parchment.
  6. Bake the meringues until they are crisp but still white, about 40 to 50 minutes.  Cool the meringues on the pans.
  7. To serve, whip the cream and sour cream together to a soft peak.
  8. The guests then help themselves to a portion of the cream, spooning it onto a dessert plate and then they break the meringue u=into large shards over the cream and eat the combination with a spoon.