Meringue is a dessert made from whipped egg whites and caster sugar. Some meringue recipes call for adding a binding agent such as cream of tartar or the cornstarch found in confectioner's sugar. Meringues are often flavoured with vanilla and a small amount of almond or coconut extract. They are very light and airy and extremely sweet.
The notion that meringue was invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen by an Italian chef named Gasparini is contended. It is more certain that the name meringue for this confection first appeared in print in François Massialot's cookbook of 1692. The word meringue first appeared in English in 1706 in an English translation of Massialot's book. Two considerably seventeenth-century English manuscript books of recipes give instructions for confections that are recognisable as meringue, though called "white biskit bread" in the book of receipts started in 1604 by Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 - c. 1647) of Appleton in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), or called "pets" in the manuscript of collected recipes written by Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 - 1680), of Knole, Kent.