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meringue problems

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by RJR_38, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I tried making chocolate meringues for the first time today (first time for any meringues) and they just wouldn't work. No matter how long I whisked it for witn my electric whisk (and it was over 10 mins - I had to stop as the motor started to get too hot and smell slightly) it just wouldn't peak properly. I kind of knew it wouldn't work but cooked it anyway. They taste ok but still very wet and over sticky.

    The recipe I used said 4 egg whites and 220g of sugar (with one tablespoon of cocoa powder stirred in towards the end). Any ideas why my mixture wouldn't peak? Did I give up too early?
  2. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    2 main problems with meringues:
    1. Eggs not fresh enough
    2. Tiniest speck of damp or grease/egg yolk in the bowl or on the whisk.
    Both of these will sabotage even the best of meringue makers!
  3. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    That could also be the problem.....if you overbeat the egg whites will collapse.
  4. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    To combat this, I very often pour boiling water over my bowl before I use it and then dry it with a clean towel. I've had far too many meringues ruined to not do it!
  5. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    ok, well my eggs were definitely fresh enough as.they were delivered with my organic box this afternoon. The thing about the grease is interesting though - I didn't know that (only about the moisture)v and I suspect this may be the problem. I will try your boiling water tip next time Egyptgirl. This forum always comes up with the answers :)
    At least the cheese straws I made with left over yolks came out delicious!
  6. I thought you had to chill the bowl and the whisk?
    I'm sure I was told to do that for pavlova but its a while since I made it.
  7. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Chilling will cause moisture to condense on the bowl when it it used, hence the egg whites will not hold their shape.
  8. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I use boiling water to rinse the bowl like EG.
    With meringues, the whisking to peaks part happens before you add the sugar. Once you have your soft peaks the sugar needs to be added gradually. I weigh it out and start by sprinkling a little in at a time and then start getting braver.
    The other possibility is that some yolk ended up in the mix. I always use a mug when I am separating eggs so if one goes wrong I don't wreck the whole batch.
    Try again - chocolate meringues are fab!
  9. Very fresh and cold eggs for meringues.
    Fresh and it has no chance to become more alkaline making the proteins repel each other a little - loose structure and slightly sloppy meringue.
    Cold because it helps keep those proteins stable and rigid.

    And, was it raining or very humid when you made them? That can make a BIG difference as merigues love to suck up moisture and you could be fightinh a losing battle - especially as you were making choccy ones, the cocoa powder make sit worse!!

    I wrote an article on this once, for our local WI. I looked at all the chemistry and everything, made a really sciencey job of it! Sad aren't I?
  10. Oh! I meant to add, older eggs at room temp make better meringue toppings, more volume per white as the proteins are more loosely packed and they whip up more easily.
    I have experimented with this rule of thumb with our chickens output and I can say that a 3 day difference in age can make an enormous difference to the meringue or macarron.
  11. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    Not sad...wonderful...

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