Our chocolatier colleague and friend, Zach Townsend, wrote to us about a technique he discovered in an old French cookbook which suggested using beer to stabilize beaten egg whites.
One of Rose’s most important contributions to baking is for stabilizing egg white meringue beaten to stiff peaks using the ideal amount of cream of tartar. The correct amount is so effective, you can even overbeat the egg whites for several minutes after reaching the stiff peak stage without risk of breaking them down.
So using beer as a stabilizer had us back in the baking kitchen to whip up some egg whites to see the results. We used an IPA ale for the test.
1. we whipped two egg whites, without any additions, to soft peaks.
2. about a tablespoon of beer was then added to the egg whites.
3. the whites were then beaten to stiff peaks
We placed some of the meringue into a bowl to compare it to beating the remaining meringue for one more minute. Our observations:
. the addition of beer definitely stabilized the egg whites.
. the meringue was not as dense or stable as meringue using cream of tartar.
. both meringues began weeping liquid after an hour, which does not happen with the cream of tartar stabilized meringue.
. the meringue does have, as one would suspect, a slight beer taste.
We can see using beer for stabilizing egg whites for a savory soufflé or other savory dish that incorporates meringue, but for desserts we favor cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites.