Egg whites are sometimes used in baking as a way to make cakes rise and make them fluffy. Causing a dough to rise is called “leavening.” Egg whites can also be used on their own as a “meringue” which is an egg white that is whipped to foamy consistency. The albumen proteins in egg whites are the secret to a successful meringue. These proteins actually unfold and align at the liquid-gas interface. This is what causes the foamy texture. Now, if you (like the rest of us) would like to stabilize this foam then you would use something acidic. Lemons would work but since you may not want to have the lemony flavor you could use “Cream of Tartar” which is tartaric acid and does the same thing but without the lemon flavor. Acid raises the number of hydrogen ions and reduces the pH of albumen, which lowers the reactivity of the protein molecules making them less likely to bond to each other. This helps to stabilize the foam. Whew!
If you want to mess your meringue up then add fat to it. Oil and egg yolks will be the death of a good foamy meringue. Fat does two things to meringue. First it prevents the coagulation of the egg whites, which is what you want to create a foam and second it decreases the stability of the foam by interfering with protein alignment. So, when you are separating eggs make sure to get all the yolks out of the whites!
You should also know that meringues do not keep well. After sitting for too long they start to weep which is very unattractive. They also get soggy after being in the fridge. So make your meringue as close to time to serve as possible and then eat it up quickly!
Here is an excellent coconut cream pie recipe!
Classic Coconut Cream Pie
1 Cuisinart Pie Crust Recipe baked in a 9-inch pie plate at 400 degrees for 10 minutes
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 TBSP AP flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 Cups Milk
- 2 Egg yolks
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup of egg whites at room temp
- 4 TBSP sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. cream of tarter
- Heat the oven to 350.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a metal or glass bowl. Add the milk and mix well. Place the bowl on top of a pot of boiling water (double boiler) and stir continuously until the mixture has thickened. Temper the yolks with 2 TBSP of the hot mixture. Add the tempered yolks to the milk mixture and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla extract, butter and coconut and mix well. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust.
- For the meringue beat the whites with cream of tarter and salt until they form stiff peaks. Begin adding the sugar one TBSP at a time until it is all incorporated and nice and glossy.
- Top the cream with the meringue and bake until browned. Probably about 30 minutes.