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Last week I made a meringue icing for my cupcakes and had problems making my meringue form peaks. This makes me ask what are some of your tips/tricks? What do you do or add to your egg white mixture in order to help it form peaks when you are having troubles.

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's important to let your eggs get to room temperature. I use this simple recipe for all meringues:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar

The cream of tartar is what really makes the egg whites to firm up nicely.

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I agree that room temperature egg whites are (all but) essential. Also, make sure your beater is VERY clean. Even a bit of oil/fat in the egg whites will cause them not to firm up as well. –  JustRightMenus Jul 18 '10 at 1:33
    
Make sure everything is clean -- the bowl, the beaters, etc. And avoid plastic -- I don't know if it's that it's made from oil, or it's just hard to clean as it attracts oil, but stick with metal or glass mixing bowls when whipping egg whites. –  Joe Jul 20 '10 at 1:56
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Well, I think that my big mixer has something to do with it. If I put clean (no-yolk) whites in a clean bowl there and turn it on, I don't have any problems getting peaks.

If you are doing this by hand, cream of tartar and a copper bowl are both recommended.

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Will the cream of tartar add anything to the taste of the recipe? –  Kyra Jul 12 '10 at 17:12
    
Be aware that copper bowls will impart a yellow tinge to your meringue. –  hobodave Jul 12 '10 at 17:26
    
@Kyra dunno, never needed to use it. But it's very commonly written up, so I doubt it. –  bmargulies Jul 12 '10 at 19:32
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I think you should whip the whites to soft peaks (peaks curl over when you take the whisk out) before adding the sugar, which will help to stiffen up the meringue. The more sugar you use the stiffer the meringue will be (up to a point, obviously) Use very fine sugar which will dissolve more easily into the egg whites.

you can whip until the peaks stay straight up when you take the whisk out but avoid over whipping as this will cause the meringue to collapse.

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This specific recipe had me add the sugar and heat to dissolve the sugar before whipping it.... since I won't be cooking it later as it is icing for cupcakes that have already been cooked. But I will try your method next time I don't have to heat my egg whites before beating them. –  Kyra Jul 12 '10 at 17:12
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