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I'm making some peanut butter meringue-type cookies and I noticed that when I mix the egg yolk into the peanut butter, the mixture immediately becomes very hard and stiff. Based on the speed, I'm guessing there's some sort of chemical reaction. The peanut butter I'm using is just peanuts and salt and the ratio is 225g peanut butter: 1 egg yolk. I'm very curious as to why this happens. It doesn't affect the finished cookie, but it does make it very hard to fold in the meringue.

  • I don't know why it's hardening, but suggest you mix (not fold) the first 1/4 or 1/3 of the meringue into the peanut butter mix to loosen it, then fold in the rest of the meringue rather than trying to fold it in all at once. – GdD Feb 6 '17 at 11:13
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Have you ever added liquid straight to tahini when making hummus? See this quote from Cook's Illustrated:

'You’d think that adding a liquid would thin tahini rather than thicken it. Why the opposite? Tahini is simply sesame-seed butter, made by grinding hulled sesame seeds into a paste. Much of its makeup is carbohydrates, and when a small amount of juice (or any water-containing liquid) is added to tahini, a portion of each carbohydrate molecule is drawn to the water. As a result, clumps of carbohydrates appear. As the amount of water is increased, more clumps develop, causing the tahini to thicken overall. If you keep adding water, eventually you’ll cross over the threshold of thickening it; enough water in the system will cause the tahini to loosen and thin out.'

I believe the same is happening to you with peanut butter, and you would probably find it also happened if you added water rather than egg yolk. I could be wrong...

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