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I've come across occasionally mentions of savoury meringues with flavours such as beetroot. How are these made? What is used as a substitute for the sugar?

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3 Answers 3

Well, you could always take a bite out of Adria's apple and just make foams directly from whatever liquid you wish to use (which may or may not be egg white; I'd advise against it. Why dilute your flavour?). Then add methylcellulose to provide you with the matrix you need for stability, and a standard ISI whipped cream dispenser will foam your product.

So for example, you could make a beetroot juice (250g) boiled with 50g sugar and 50g water, then cooled. Add methylcellulose 8g (2.2% by weight, using Methocel F50). Blend well. The recipe I have (for a carrot foam) calls for it to then be whipped in a stand mixer to stiff peaks, spread on a sheet and dehydrated for 5 hours. I imagine you could extrude from a standard ISI instead, probably charged twice with NO2.

Oh, as an added bonus, this would allow you to make completely vegan 'meringue' as well. Use a different liquid, add a touch of vanilla.

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And when you make this is has a similar consistency to meringue? How thick do you spread it to dry in 5 hours? I'm guessing when you're spreading it out to dehydrate you can adjust the thickness and vary the dehydration time? –  nunu Sep 23 '10 at 12:52
    
I haven't made this, it's an adaptation of a recipe from khymos.org –  daniel Sep 23 '10 at 17:41

The eggs whites in traditional meringues are used to spread the sugar into a thin foam that is then dried in the oven (or dehydrator) leaving behind the sugar structure and some proteins from the eggs. To make a meringue you need something that dissolves to tangle up with those proteins. I would guess that the beet meringues from Café Atlantico are made with beet powder replacing the sugar with the goat cheese in the middle adding to the sense of savory.

I have never made savory meringues, but if I were to experiment I would mix freshly whipped eggs whites with sugar to those created by reducing a savory liquid and then adding powder egg whites to it.

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I don't believe that sugar is required to make meringues come out properly. I don't see any reason that you couldn't go without it altogether.

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Sugar is extremely helpful to prevent the meringue from collapsing by bonding with the proteins in the egg white. If not used, it will be extra important to get some acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar, for example) into the meringue for stability and strength. –  justkt Sep 20 '10 at 19:23
    
I would be very interested to see what happened if you baked whipped egg white. I would expect that @Martha is absolutely right, and the foam would collapse. I'd like to see that proven experimentally, though! –  Tom Anderson Sep 10 '11 at 12:44

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