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I made a very nice stiff batch of meringue for meringue cookies. I piped half of the batch on the cookie sheet and they looked wonderful (or at least they were nicely stiff, and I need to practice my piping). For the second half, I wanted chocolate, so I added Hershey's (dark) cocoa powder. I didn't measure the cocoa powder. As I whisked it in, the batch ( that had been wonderful) turned very runny. I tried adding more sugar in hopes of reviving it, but to no avail. So from the same batch I had nice white curly kisses and flat chocolate blobs.

Was it the amount of cocoa powder?

Was it the fact that it was dark cocoa?

Was it the timing -- don't try to add something after it had been sitting about 10 minutes?

Something else?

I thought I finally got the consistency just right with the first half of the batch. --If only I had been satisfied with just vanilla... Help?

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    Welcome to Seasoned Advice. Your first question here is an interesting one. – Jolenealaska Dec 21 '16 at 5:22
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    I have a vague recollection that fat can impede the stiffness of beaten egg whites. Could the fat in the cocoa have contributed to the fall? – caitriona Dec 21 '16 at 9:01
  • That was what I was hoping to find out. I've read recipes that say to add up to 1/4 cup powder to a recipe, so I wouldn't have thought it was the cocoa itself, unless dark cocoa has a LOT more fat (which I couldn't find info on). John's explanation of surface tension makes sense though. – Rosemarie Miller Dec 21 '16 at 13:36
  • Dark cocoa has less fat though... Its just cocoa solids that the cocoa butter (the fat part of chocolate) has been removed from. – senschen Dec 21 '16 at 13:42
  • Thanks for that info -- I couldn't readily find it last night when I was looking. – Rosemarie Miller Dec 21 '16 at 13:54
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It was timing. If you want to make chocolate meringues, add the cocoa powder to the liquid egg whites, and then whisk it all together at once.

Beaten egg whites are bubbles. Don't add things to an already-formed meringue, as they will just cause the bubble structure to collapse.

Ever sprinkled sugar or cinnamon powder on a cappuccino? Notice how the milk foam immediately collapses? The same thing happened to your meringue.

  • If they are delicate, like bubbles, how are they able to be piped without collapsing? – Rosemarie Miller Dec 21 '16 at 4:39
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    It's not delicacy. The ratio between the piping tip diameter and the bubble diameter is 100:1 or so - piping isn't a problem. Adding a substance that changes the surface tension is the problem. – John Feltz Dec 21 '16 at 4:41
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    Okay, surface tension makes sense there! (Actually, no, I've never had cappuccino, so that visual didn't take -- sorry...) – Rosemarie Miller Dec 21 '16 at 13:08
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The problem here is partially timing but mostly the second whipping; it's better to fold-in dry ingredients rather than whip into an already formed meringue.

The cocoa added to the whipped egg white doesn't help stabilize it, so whipping it again once it's added will cause the bubble-structure to collapse rapidly. Delicately folding-in the cocoa until it is just mixed into the meringue should work.

This is also how one adds almond flour to meringue to get Macarons.

  • I admit that I haven't tried adding cocoa, but I do this all the time with crushed red-hots (it's slightly powdery like cocoa, but with larger chunks, too), and haven't had a problem so long as I'm folding it in gently. – Joe Dec 22 '16 at 19:09

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