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Help With Almond Merengues

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Help with some Almond Merengues please!

We make a merengue from Egg whites and 10X that are heated (to 140), then whisked until stiff peaks are formed. A bit of vanilla and some crushed toasted almonds. Then bake at about 350 until done.

Our problem is that sometimes they turn out perfect, White, fluffy, shell on the outside, inside kind of gooey but not too much. And other times they look horrible. They are brown, flat, sticky all over, and not appetizing.

The bigger problem is that I cannot figure out why sometimes they don't turn out. There is no common denominator (that we can find). Everything is consistant from day to day (measurements, temperatures, whisking time, cooking temp/time, sanitized equipment). Just when we think we find the problem and fix it happens again.

I have a pretty solid understanding of baking technique and the science behind it but I cannot get my head wrapped around this one. Can anyone help here. Thanks so much.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #2 of 11
I cant help with the reason behind your inconsistency and i dont know exactly the recipe you're using. I can only tell you my fail safe method.
The important thing is to weigh the egg whites 115g to 225g caster sugar warm them together over a pan of hot, not boiling water til the sugar is dissolved and the mixture slightly warm. beat til thick and cool about 15 mins
Oven should be at 150c gas 2 then just as you put the meringues in turn it down to 120c gas1/2 45 mins. turn off heat and leave to cool in the oven
Hope this helps - works for me every time.
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
That's exactly what we are doing, except in Fahrenheit of course.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #4 of 11
You know I've had this problem too, using the same recipe every time.

I always figured that maybe my measurements were a bit off, or I did something wrong like overcooked the mixture or whipped air into it a bit differently. I never figured it out either.

Sometimes they were beautiful!! Other times, not so much.

I wonder if there is a difference in the result depending on the amount of tie you wait before whipping it, or the amount of time on the fire.
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #5 of 11
The freshness of the egg white has a lot to do with things. If they are not so fresh and watery they will flatten, brown and ooze. If you're using fresh you should always listen for the plump,plump,plump as you pour in the whites.
Myself I, would never bring the sugar and whites above blood temp. Heat just enough to feel nothing between your fingers. These are the last thing we do at the end of the day, turn off the ovens and throw them in. They are done in the am. Keeping in mind we use the older decks with a pilot light.
HTH's
pan
The dbl boiler works well for the sugar, we just throw the 60 qt right up on the gas and keep mixing and running our impecibly clean hands along the bottom until the mixture is disolved or it does not feel cool nor warm.
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #6 of 11
I totally agree. And isn't it nice to blame the chicken instead of our culinary skills!

I really became aware of the difference in egg whites when I put myself out to pasture in the country, and suddenly had access to eggs on the day they were laid, fresh from the chicken's butt. They beat up brilliantly with no effort and consistently outstanding results.

If you crack a commercially available egg onto a plate and a freshly laid one, you can tell by how flattened out the white is how fresh it isn't. A fresh egg will stay together more vertically, with a thicker cloudy white and a rounded, less flat yolk. For an older egg on a plate, the white will spread far and wide, be more clear not cloudy, and the yolk will have flattened a little.

The proteins that give beaten egg white their body have begun to degrade in older eggs, that's why they look different on the plate like that.

Also, a fresh egg in its shell put in water will sink to the bottom and lay completely flat on its side, where a less fresh one will start to point upwards a little. If it sits vertically it's really stale, if it floats, it's inedible.

So I would say check the eggs first to see if their freshness (or lack of) is causing you your inconsistency. I read that commercial eggs can be up to 6 months old, but I don't know if that's true or not.
post #7 of 11

Swiss Meringue's

BRETON BEATS:
Good morning. I strongly believe that in getting to 140 degrees is the culprit in your meringue. You can get to 140 degrees in 10 minutes or in say 17 minutes. Baking science dictates that too high of a temperature in heating the whites will squeeze out the water from the coagulating proteins in the whites " FASTER THAN IT CAN EVAPORATE & PRODUCE SYRUP BEADS".
It will also cause the egg white foam to rise & then crack & turn the surface an unappealing yellow. Try getting to 140 degrees slower. I might add that if you are not getting the sugar from the box in it came in... you should consider sifting the conf. sugar if it is stored in a bin. By the way swiss meringues can be heated from 120 to 170 degrees. I generally heat mine to 135/140 degrees.
Good luck to you & I hope this helps you. Enjoy the rest of the day.

~ZEE.:chef:
post #8 of 11
Z-Bestus is absolutely correct. Also make sure you are scaling the egg whites and scaling the sugar (by weight) - not measuring by volume (cups). You will never, ever, ever get 100% consistency measuring by volume. The egg whites within reason but not the sugar.
post #9 of 11
Along the lines with what Pan was saying, are you using fresh egg whites or frozen?

In my first bakery job, I'd make at least an 80qt full of what I now know is 'italian' meringue every night and the easiest way to have a problem is too thin egg whites. We were using the frozen 30# buckets, with those the key seemed to be mixing it around before each scaling - make sure it was homogenous.

Hope this helps.

Erik
Erik

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid one day, lying in the hospital dying of nothing"
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Erik

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid one day, lying in the hospital dying of nothing"
-Redd Foxx
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post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for their help to others wondering the same here are some of my responses to some of the suggestions.

140 is a typical temp for egg whites to brought to for differnet applications, if that was the problem it wouldn't explain why sometimes it works and often not.

Of course we always weigh the sugar (with a balance scale to boot) but if the problem was a varying amount of sugar that wouldn't answer for recipes that differ in the amount of sugar to add.

Finally we never use frozen whites (often these come pre-sweetened) and we have in the end decided to blame the freshness of the whites. For now.....
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #11 of 11
The OP mentions 10X which I think of as confectionery sugar; others mention caster sugar and not being able to feel the sugar by hand at the right temp which to my mind means a granulated sugar... which is it?

I like using some 10X in the meringues for lightness, but use fruit fine sugar (this is all I can get) when beating the whites.
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