The power of protein
Eggs are fascinating. Not only do they have the ability to become life, they also have almost miraculous powers. They hold things together, they add color and taste, they help products retain moisture, increase in volume and create amazing textures. And did I said they are nutritionally loaded? From cakes to custards they are virtually irreplaceable.Meringues
No, I am not talking about the well loved latin dance. Few people know the versatility of meringues, they can be eaten raw, cooked or baked. They can be added to other recipes or they can be used as toppings, they can be torched and so much more. They are made with just the egg white and here are some rules you want to make sure follow.
- Make sure the egg whites are free of yolk or ever contaminated with any fat, this will prevent the egg from ever become a strong foam
- Always use room temperature eggs for fluffier meringues
- All equipment used should also be clean of fat residue and at room temperature
- Humidity is the worst. Stay away from making meringues on rainy/humid days
- The higher the sugar content the more stable meringue
- Make sure to keep whipping the meringue on low speed to prevent it from setting to early
Here are some basic recipes and their uses
French or Common Meringue
The very first recipe I ever lay my hands on. Nothing Simpler than a common meringue. But very easy to mess up. Follow instruction carefully for a successful and beautiful cloud of whipped egg whites.
- 4 Oz Egg Whites, room temperature
- 4 Oz Fine Granulated Sugar
- 2 Oz Confectioners Sugar, sifted (optional)
- pinch of Salt
Whip egg whites until slightly double in size, Gradually add the granulated sugar, making sure the previous sugar dissolves before adding the next. You can do this in three stages. Once all granulated sugar is added, slowly add the confectioners sugar and whipped to the desired consistency, this will depend on the use. To add to cakes soufflés and sponges whip to medium peaks. For toppings and macarons, whip to stiff peaks. This meringue can be now used for toppings and can even be torched. You can also pipe in parchment lined sheet pans and dry in a 200 degree oven for a couple of hours.
And my grandma Irene was ready to make something special. She had a clear glass soup plate in one hand and a fork in the other. Inside the plate a yellowish gooey substance.
Me: Abuela, what are you doing?
Grandma: I am making clouds. Come, sit and watch
Her skinny arms starting moving faster than I though it was possible for an old lady like her. And suddenly the yellowish substance starts turning into a beautiful cloud of fluffy meringue. Little did she know that, that day she sparked a curiosity about food that’s very much alive until today.
It’s been over 30 years and I’m no longer a kid, neither do I live in Havana. On the other hand, I did become a baker and pasty chef and here are some of the things I have learned since that fortuitous summer day in the county I was born.