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I've read the other questions on meringue but didn't find the answer I'm looking for. When making meringue, there are basically three types that form:

  1. Crisp shells will a uniform texture throughout.
  2. Crisp shells with a gooey texture in the middle.
  3. Gooey, marshmallow like shells.

What are the variables and ratios that predicate the type of shell predictably (e.g. temperature, time, source/type of heat, and sugar:egg ratio)? What mechanics are involved to determine the result?

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feel free to roll back my edit if it's too broad in scope; I wanted to expand the scope to provide for a more exhaustive answer –  mfg Oct 28 '11 at 21:39
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I recommend watching Egg Files VII - Good Eats. It is an entire episode on meringue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmIuFX3x_ik

Important factors affecting the result:

  • temperature
  • amount of sugar
  • how the sugar is incorporated

Alton Brown explains how to make three types of meringue: french, italian, and, swiss.

Here are a tidbits of info from that episode:

French Merigue

  • add pinch of salt to egg whites
  • whip egg whites,
  • add sugar slowly until dissolved
  • add vanilla extract
  • add cornstarch and vinegar
  • bake, then turn off oven and wait 3 hours with oven door ajar low temperature 250 degrees fahrenheit

The low temperature means the meringue dries out slowly. The outside becomes dry (crisp) first, and since the temperature is dropped before water inside can escape the inside becomes soft and moist.

The acid from the vinegar helps the structure of the foam (note: new eggs are slightly acidic, so use new eggs for meringue).

The corn starch prevents any liquids from seeping out.

Swiss

  • add pinch of salt to egg whites
  • dissolve sugar in egg whites
  • whip on medium while heating (Alton uses a hair dryer!)
  • wait until the temperature hits 140 degrees fahrenheit
  • kill heat
  • whip on high

  • These meringues were poached

These meringues becomes very gooey inside. Note: Hot water can dissolve more sugar than cold water. Sugar keeps water in the final product.

Italian

  • whip egg whites with a litle salt and vanilla extract
  • make hot sugar syrup with sugar and corn syrup
  • slowly drizzle syrup into foam while mixing
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Thank you for this information and the link to the video. It will be useful. However, it didn't really answer the question. To clarify my question a little. I'm using a recipe similar to the French Meringues. What factors affect the crip/goo of the final meringue. –  Rincewind42 Oct 31 '11 at 13:54
    
What differences are there between your recipe and the french meringue recipe above? –  soegaard Oct 31 '11 at 20:09
    
Found this rather thorough explanation of the chemistry of meringue: semester52.wikispaces.com/… It is slightly more detailed than most explanations. It doesn't answer your question directly, but there is a list of references to scientific literatur that might be worth to seek out. –  soegaard Oct 31 '11 at 20:28
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Weather is also a factor. Meringues go crispier when it's a dry cool day out. (High pressure). Don't even bother trying on a low pressure foggy day.

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