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All the experts insist that a meringue must be made with room-temperature eggs. Why?

I ask because my experience runs completely opposite, at least when it comes to flourless/nut-based desserts where the principal (possibly only) ingredients are egg whites, sugar, and nut meal. If I fold the nuts into a meringue that started with room-temperature eggs, it collapses dramatically. If the meringue started with cold eggs, it still loses some volume when the nuts are added, but not nearly as much. Also, baking the cold meringue is much less likely to result in a runny mess.

Am I doing something wrong, or is there a secret exception to the room-temperature rule that people neglect to mention?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't think you're doing anything wrong; if it works, then don't fix it! The truth is that the process of beating the eggs will warm them up to room temperature quite quickly anyway--keep in mind that meringues are up to 90% air.

As for stability, additives like sugar and cream of tartar will have more of an effect than will temperature of the eggs. The addition of sugar absorbs the water that squeezes out of the tightly packed bubbles and helps separate the proteins, resulting in stability. You want to add the sugar after beating the eggs into a foam, and use a superfine sugar so that it won't end up grainy.

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The reason they're supposed to be warm is that cold eggs tend to curdle, and de-emulsify. This is only really an issue if you're adding a bunch of fat (because otherwise you don't get an emulsion). They should also get a bit bigger, which may explain why they seem to shrink more when you fold things into them.

You can always try adding a little cream of tartar in order to stabilize them, which might help.

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I always make sure to have my eggs at room temperature, and a quick way of doing this is having them sit for five minutes in warm water. In my meringue recipe I use cream of tartar to get them to set up right. The reason why room temperature is recommended is because an egg at room temperature can expand much more than one that is not when beaten. I have attached a link to my post about meringues on my blog if you would like to check it out. Good luck! :)

Easy Meringue Recipe

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