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Meringue powder VS Egg whites for baking...
What is Meringue powder? You may ask in disgust especially if you are holding the can in your hand. But have you ever really read the ingredients listed on the back of your favorite store bought icing. Ever wonder why some icings have a starchy after taste. How those cake decorators manage to do so much incredible artistic things with icing.
Well Meringue powder.
I am very sensitive to cornstarch or too much baking soda in recipes, they are usually the hint of something extra i taste in a dessert. I hate the taste they leave behind.
But i know like any other good student of baking, who enjoys making desserts that these are necessary ingredients in baking anything remotely known to have to rise, or needs a leavening agent.
Cornstarch is known to keep things from clumping, it is used extensively in store bought powdered sugar / confectioner's sugar and of course meringue powder. Besides giving these products long shelf lives, they also cause them to add fluffiness and body, but you must make sure your measurements are exact.
This also goes for baking soda, making sure you are conscious of your measurements is to your advantage in succeeding with your recipe. So leveling off all spoons and cups gives your end product the best flavor before, during and after consumption.
Answer, Meringue powder is a combination of dried egg whites, constarch and some food gums for binding.
The first time i ever heard of this product was when i took a cake decorating course. This is what it is primarily used for, royal icing but you can find it in other desserts, especially mousses, but it can be overwhelming if your measurement is not correct.
Most people can't tell or don't care but i usually pick up that repellent after taste which makes my enjoyment of something sweet nil.
Even though our instructor promised us that you really couldn't taste meringue powder, i did not agree and i still don't. But i realize it is because of the other ingredients in the meringue powder and not the dried egg white's itself.
Meringue powder is used in royal icing, you know the type that does not easily break down and can sustain lots of pressure from outside elements.
Advantages of meringue powder
- shelf life
- less work
- adds body
- adds stability to the texture
- replaces raw egg whites
- exact ingredients added to recipe
- on hand
- meringue powder - added ingredients, not pure, careful with other ingredients & measurement,
- egg whites - adds too much wetness, liquid, have to separate eggs, keep at room temp, yolks can be wasted or have to be used in another way, beating in a clean non greasy, glass or metal bowl
When to use in other recipes, meringue powder
- longevity, not eating right away, storing, transporting
How to use:
Meringue powder - Two teaspoons of meringue powder plus two tablespoons water equals one egg. Just beat until you have the soft peaks that you want.
I prefer real egg whites every time i can but if you need something hardy with a long life like royal icing for decorating, i recommend that you bite the can and use the meringue powder, Wilton has proven the best for me.
Another great thing about beaten egg whites is that they are a high protein dessert that can be better for you with little or no substantial carbohydrates, depending on what you use are a sweetener.
Yet for something quick, tasty, fluffy and beautiful, not much can rival meringue!
Warning, remember you are using raw egg whites.
How to make meringue from egg whites
- room temperature egg whites, no specks or sign of yellow yolk,
- clean non greasy bowl
- clean non greasy mixer or whisk
- salt optional
- cream of tartar
- vanilla optional
Which bowl to use continues to be a debate, but all parties agree it must be clean, and free of grease.
- copper, have been known to remain at largest volume before and after baked.
- stainless steel, is known to give a large volume when beating
- glass, gives good volume
The egg should always be separated at room temperature.
- hand, make sure they are clean and dry
- shells, you have to watch out for bits in your eggs
- gadgets, can be advantageous
Granulated sugar versus powdered sugar
This is personal choice because the granulated will dissolve as the eggs are beating to a stiff peak stage, just how fast is the advantage of the powdered sugar, which dissolves really quickly with the least amount of concern.
- high heat til golden brown
- low heat until hard crust and soft insides
Best looking whipped meringue, bright white, glossy and stand up peaks.
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