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soupy Italian Meringue—what am I doing wrong???
Posted: 31 October 2011 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve repeatedly tried making an italian meringue, and I just can’t seem to get it right.  (I’ve made RHC’s strawberry mousseline before, and it worked, so I don’t know what happened!). 

I heat the sugar and water until it’s boiling and then let it sit on low heat.  I next whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until stiff.  Then I heat the sugar/water to about 245 degrees.  I then gradually pour the sugar/water into the egg whites while continuing the whip, but . . .  My egg whites deflate into a soupy mess, and I cannot get them to whip back up to firm or stiff peaks.  They basically look like a thick meringue soup. 

What am I doing wrong?  Please help!  (I’m trying to make an italian meringue to make macarons.  Using the meringue soup works—sort of—except that the macarons are very flat and chewy.  They still taste good though!)  Thanks!

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Posted: 31 October 2011 11:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Are you a thermometer to check the temp on your sugar syrup?  Did you get the egges to soft peak stage before adding the sugar syrup.  Do the eggs whites ever develop a stiff peak? Did you have the right amount of water/sugar to make your sugar syrup and are you getting all of it into the meringue?  How long do you beat the egg whites after adding sugar syrup?

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Posted: 01 November 2011 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yep, yep, yep, yep (I use scales to measure, excellent thermometers, and everything!) . .  After I added the sugar water, I whipped those egg whites for at least 15 minutes, but they never recovered from becoming soup.

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Posted: 01 November 2011 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Are you using shelled egg whites or egg whites from a carton?  I’ve found the carton whites to behave exactly as you described - deflating and never coming back.

If you are using shelled whites, there’s the possibility that there’s some egg yolk in it; I can tell when one of the staff is not so careful about separating the whites when this happens at work.  The whites foam up in the bowl, and they look ok (but they aren’t really at the usual volume) and when the syrup is added, it deflates a lot.

Another possibility is that your thermometer is not accurate; what kind of thermometer are you using (probe type with an alarm or alert; or a candy thermometer?).  Usually when you add the syrup, slowly, the whites begin to rise in the bowl, and steam comes off of it at the end.

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Posted: 01 November 2011 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks!  I was using Eggolgy egg whites, which are generally supposed to work, but maybe just won’t hold up. I’ll try again with actual egg whites.  (I was using a probe thermometer from Thermoworks.)

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Posted: 01 November 2011 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve used “cartoned” egg whites to be on the safe side (of pasteurization not volume, ha ha) and they do not whip as nice…however, I can’t say they are an entire failure either.  We have a different brand here.

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Posted: 01 November 2011 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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be on the safe side

FWIW, as I understand it, most egg problems are on the shell (not in the egg itself), so if you ever have concerns, you could put the shells in boiling water for a couple of seconds.

Notwithstanding the above, disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer, etc…..

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Posted: 08 November 2011 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Never had a problem doing it this way:

mix water and sugar, set on high, hang the thermometer (MUST DO THIS), bring to 238* then start to whip the room temp egg whites. When foamy add the cream of tartar, when soft peaks add the rest of the sugar. By the time they are whipped your syrup should be 248* (keep checking, take it off and drizzle it down the sides of the egg whites. Beat till cool (MUST DO OR MELTS THE BUTTER), check the outside and inside of the bowl. Sometimes wrapping a gel pack around it helps if it’s a large quantity. Then add the room temp butter cut in chunks and the flavoring and whip till it comes together.

If the meringue isn’t cool enough, that’s part of the soupy problem. Stick your finger in it to see if it’s cool or room temp! lol If it’s a little soupy, stick the bowl in the fridge for about 20 min or so and then rebeat. Only had to do that once when I was in a big hurry and didn’t cool the meringue enough.

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Posted: 08 November 2011 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Anne in NC - 01 November 2011 03:52 PM

be on the safe side

FWIW, as I understand it, most egg problems are on the shell (not in the egg itself), so if you ever have concerns, you could put the shells in boiling water for a couple of seconds.

Notwithstanding the above, disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer, etc…..

I recently learned that the yolk is the major contributor…which should make white safer…still…don’t wish to get 300 people sick…different if it was just family.  Not saying I don’t love my family but I know if there are illnesses or weakened immune systems to warrant concern.

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Posted: 08 November 2011 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hi, Sherrie!

It’s amazing how information changes!  Agreed re all the safer/family/illnesses/weakened immune systems points!

—ak

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Posted: 08 November 2011 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I thought that Italian meringue was safe with “normal” whites, as the temperature has been raised. Am I wrong?

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Posted: 08 November 2011 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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It is considered safe.  There are people, though, with weakened immune systems for one reason or another, so even safe can be touchy for them.

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Posted: 08 November 2011 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Harold McGee’s book, On Food and Cooking makes note of the fact that “the bowl temp only reaches 130 to 135 degrees F” when making Italian Meringue, which is not hot enough as far as the government (and health dept for anyone doing this commercially!) is concerned.  While using pasteurized whites can work, I’ve never had any luck using them because the meringue deflates when I add the hot sugar syrup.  But if you use the Swiss Meringue method, you can heat the whites and sugar to 160 (you only have to reach 160 even for a few seconds; or just maintain 140 for ... I can’t remember how many minutes it would be, I’d have to look it up. 

So if you’re making this for your own family/friends, as long as you know no one is immunity-compromised, you’d be ok!

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Posted: 08 November 2011 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I also used pasteurized whites a few times when I made Italian Meringue. It turned out OK except I did not like the taste that much. Also, it did not hold the shape well when I piped.
I love Italian Meringue Icing. Try to do it again. Your family, friends will love to eat your cakes.

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Posted: 14 November 2011 04:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Jeanne:  Thank you so much for your suggestion!  I used whites from the egg, not the carton, and it made a beautiful Italian meringue, which in turn made fantasic macarons with feet.  grin. Everyone was very happy with the macaronsas the final bite for our 7 course “France” dinner.  Including the relieved baker.

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Posted: 12 July 2012 12:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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can someone help me here.

I’m trying to make ome italian meringue to make macarons. all is well when I bet the meringue to very very stiff, almost about 10 mins on kitchenaid high speed (no.8). the meringue was glossy and very stiff. I then mixed it to the almond, icing sugar mixture. pop them inside oven as what I do usually. the feet came out very very tiny, almost none at all, and macarons stick to the parchment paper.


The first time I did the meringue, I whipped the meringue on KA high speed (no.8) also. But I whipped for only about 2 mins or less. The meringue came out NOT SO stiff, still stiff but not as stiff as the above mentioned. it’s glossy though.

Resulting macarons have higher feet, but also wider feet (wider than the top shell. Though, it is still not so correct (because feet cannot be wider than top shell), but it looks more decent.


My question is, how long should we beat the meringue and do we really need very stiff peak or just stiff enough peak meringue will do? I’m so tired experimenting with these egg whites/ :(

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