Hmmm....egg whites...they have never had any interest in me until I started making macarons...yes macarons...and....all, even the sleepy bakers will lift their chins! Egg whites and macarons...meringue and if all done wrongly, one extra stroke, one less whip...you'll get amaretti biscuits or meringue cookie instead of macarons....
I had bought this book from Delicious Ingredients along side Hisako Ogita's Macarons Book...I have only tried a few recipes from this book...but they are the kind of recipes I'd love to try...they are messy, chewy and gooey...pretty much like me, hehe....but what really interest me when I grabbed this book was the short write ups about creams, chocolates and of course egg whites!
So, let's today learn a bit of the behaviours of egg whites....they are lame, cool, but if wrongly handled, can be very temperamental....heh...sounds like me !
Let's begin with some excerpts from this book on egg whites....
.....do you fear making meringue? Like I used to? Have I beaten them enough? How sure are you if it stiff or not? What is soft peak and stiff...a bird's beak...what ? what? Why do I have to add cream of tartar?
Separate Cold Eggs
Egg yolk and whites will separate easily when cold or taken out from the fridge....hehe, I usually break my eggs at room temperature...and there have been many a times, the yolk would spill into the white...fret not....use the empty egg shell to lift the yolk ....it would magically attract the yolk....try it if you didn't believe me. I separate my eggs by dribbling them through my fingers...and please, please wash your hands clean before you start baking...and use clean kitchen towels every time you bake....I do that all the time!
Keep The Whites Fat Free
Ahah...very very important! One slight drop of fat, or yolk or oil, would inhibit the egg white's ability to trap air and hold it, hence, you would not be able to even whip them...been there done that! hehe...go on try this and tell me if you can whip meringue frm egg whites with traces of butter or yolk!
Add Cream of Tartar
Before the advent of electric mixers, egg whites wre beaten in copper bowls with wire whisks. The elements in copper combined with egg white tend to stabilise the egg white and allows them to whip properly....nowadays adding cream of tartar ensures the stability of the egg white and allows them to develop dense, creamy and foamy meringue....I usually add a pinch of cream of tartar when whipping my meringue for my macarons...
Use A Metal Bowl
Well, you cant find copper bowls anymore, use a stainless bowl. Plstic bowls are poor choices as there might be traces of oil sticking to it, and glass bowls are too slippery that would not let the whites to cling to them, hence difficult to form a close tight structure as us meringue.
Start Beating Slowly
Yup...I do this too....in the beginning to get the meringue going...to get to shaving foam texture...by beating slowly you trap more air...at this point the meringue is stilly jiggly and not cling to the bowl...yet! At this point you can add a pinch of cream of tartar....emmm I usually add them at the beginning of whipping...
Beat To Soft Peak
Soft peaks are formed when egg whites develop soft, cloud like mounds with well defined peaks that slowly curve down when the beaters are lifted, they do not cling to the side of the bowls but shift when moved. With this texture, they are good for souffles, mousses and cake batters, they are firm to hold their shape and incorporates well with other batters.
Beat To Stiff Glossy Peaks
Ahah...when making meringue for macarons, you have to have this texture...they are usually formed when sugar is added into them, get it get it.....when we add sugar gradually to meringue for macarons...right! they are stiff so much so that they would not fall out when the bowl is turned upside down...and the beater when lifted will have a bird's beak standing at 45degrees! At this stage the meringue is good for pavlovas, meringue cookies and of course macarons hehe!
Once the stiff glossy peak is formed, stop beating...stop please, otherwise overbeating would cause the whites to separate and become dry and granular...and eventually the whites will collapse!
Always add the meringue to other batters or other ingreadients, as doing the other way round would deflate the meringue. Always add one third of the meringue, fold carefully to incorporate the batter....and as for macarons, I have tried doing this that is adding the whites to the almond mixture, they worked well too! But I usually fold the almond mixture to the meringue, incorporating them all before doing the macaronnage...ie pressing the batter to the wall of my bowl, to let the air out a bit...overdoing this would defalte the meringue and you'll end up with watery batter.....
Well! That's a bit of a write up on egg whites...and here's some macarons I made for a fellow blogger on Sunday noon....Hazelnut Macarons with Peanut Butter Jelly filling, Espresso Macarons (using Illy Espresso!) with Espresso Buttercream and Almond Macarons with Cream Cheese and Lychee filling.....the macarons were a bit tan as I was in between customers who came to collect the cakes....notice the pointy tops...think I need to run another stroke on my meringue.....