My merangues are a source of shame.
October 15, 2006 9:26 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my merangues to do the right thing?

Well cooked or commercially bought ones are white and powdery and crisp and light and perfectly shaped. Any that I try to make are brownish with a toffee like consistency at the bottom, a tendency to be gooey in the middle and a limpiy-like attraction to the "non stick" baking paper they sit on. What am I doing wrong? (PS I have only a gas oven available that may not be too great at the low temperatures required).
posted by rongorongo to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Meringues are confectionery prima-donnas - one false move and it's all over. Looking at your location, the humidity in your location is pretty high, and that's a killer. My mother rarely insisted on using real baking parchment for very few things, but this was one of them. The oven shouldn't be a problem if you keep the low temp going - try preheating it longer, to drive out any extra moisture inside. You could possibly try some of the tips on this page for stabilizing.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:50 AM on October 15, 2006

If the humidity is too high, your meringues will be gooey. You also may be baking at too high a temperature- you want to dry them out, not brown them. Try baking at 225 (use an oven thermometer) for 1to 1-1/12 hours (test with a toothpick, should come out clean), and then turn off the oven and leave them in for another hour.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2006

Copper bowl.

There's something (catalysis?) about copper that helps the egg-white protein polymerize.
posted by porpoise at 9:55 AM on October 15, 2006

And also make sure everything is completely dry before you start, without a hint of a film of grease or oil on it, and also make sure your eggs are at room temperature before you start.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2006

A pizza/baking stone on the bottom of the oven (lowest rack if the bottom of your oven has vents or coils or anything like that) will help even out the temperature in the oven. You'll have to increase the preheat time a lot--it could add 30 minutes or more depending on how thick it is.
posted by bcwinters at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2006

Besides all the above, copper, dry etc.,, one way is to put them in after you've baked some bread some evening. Once the bread is out, put in the tray of merengues, turn OFF the oven and go to bed.
They'll be perfect in the morning, crisp and white outside and slightly gooey/chewy inside
posted by Wilder at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2006

I LIKE them gooey.
posted by shanevsevil at 2:03 PM on October 15, 2006

A bit of cream of tartar will help (if it is not already in the recipe).
posted by catseatcheese at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2006

When whipping your eggwhites, you need to ensure that both bowl (preferably copper, as noted above) and your whipping instrument of choice (preferably an electric mixer with a balloon-whisk attachment) are perfectly clean. Any stray grease or washing-up liquid will prevent you from achieving a really stiff foam.

Start by using room-temp eggs that are as fresh as you can get - the whites should stay together and not run all over the place. A drop of white vinegar will also help the foam. Whip the eggwhites to a light foam and add caster sugar gradually while still whipping. Whip to a high, stiff gloss that will support very high peaks. The mix should look like glossy white satin.

Oven temp should be medium and be careful if your oven doesn't cook evenly. You will need to turn your meringues half-way through cooking. When they're nearly done, turn the oven off and let them sit there drying out until they're warm. Keep a close eye on them - if they're browning turn the oven temp down. Check in another 5 minutes.

Finally, if one recipe isn't doing it for you, try another variation. I live in Sydney, Australia and it's traditional to make pavlova (meringue cake) for Christmas. It just doesn't get more humid than that, and I generally don't have a problem.

Go for it!
posted by ninazer0 at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2006

Second Wilder's comment. My grandmother always used to make them by heating the oven (I don't know to what temp, I'm afraid), then turning it off and leaving them overnight. Always came out just like Wilder described.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:14 PM on October 15, 2006

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