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The Biggest Mistakes When Making Meringue

Meringue Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Making Meringue - Separating Eggs

Separating Eggs

Fiona Haynes
A meringue can form the basis of some wonderful low-fat or fat-free desserts and cookies, but many people avoid making them. Making a meringue ought to be simple—after all, all you need are some egg whites, sugar and some cream of tartar. But many a cook has been frustrated by limp and chewy meringue. Here are some common mistakes while trying to make meringue.
  • Eggs at the wrong temperature Separate eggs while they are cold, but beat the egg whites when they are at room temperature. You just need to wait about 30 minutes


  • Using the wrong kind of mixing bowl Metal or glass mixing bowls are best for yielding voluminous beaten egg whites. Plastic can retain fat and grease, which inhibits the volume of the egg whites. Whichever type of bowl you use, be sure it’s spotlessly clean


  • Specks of yolk in the egg whites Any trace of yolk will ruin your meringue. Resist the temptation to dip a finger in to get it out. Some people use a piece of bread or a cotton-bud tip to remove the yolk. But honestly, it’s best to discard that egg. For this reason, separate eggs into a small bowl first, and add the egg whites individually to the bigger mixing bowl. That way, if a yolk slips through, you need only discard one egg white, not the whole batch


  • Adding sugar too quickly Sugar needs to be added tablespoon by tablespoon at the soft-peak stage. This is laborious, but don’t be tempted to add the whole lot at once. Undissolved sugar attracts moisture, which can ruin your meringue. Superfine sugar dissolves more quickly


  • Eggs not beaten to stiff peaks Soft peaks are fine for a pie topping, but for a dessert base such as a pavlova, you need stiff, glossy peaks


  • Oven too hot You need a low temperature to ensure the gradual evaporation of moisture from the meringue. If the oven is too hot, the outside will be crunchy and browned and the center will be sticky and chewy


  • Meringue removed too soon from the oven Allow the meringue to remain in the oven after baking. This helps dry it out


  • Making meringues on a humid day Try and avoid this if possible. The sugar in the meringue attracts moisture and makes it chewy. It may take longer for the meringue to bake and dry out in the oven, too
Here's how to make a great meringue.
Related Video
How to Separate Eggs
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