how to whip up nice & stiff egg whites
Before You Start:
Plan on using room temperature eggs. Proteins in the whites expand better when warm, giving a more voluminous foam. Food and cooking authority Harold McGee, author of the seminal book On Food and Cooking, disagrees with this. He states that the temperature of the eggs is not important since the whisking action warms the yolks quickly. Though admittedly anecdotal, my own experiences have yielded greater, stiffer rewards when using eggs not straight out of the refrigerator. And no, leaving eggs out for a few hours won’t make you sick. Many bakeries do the same thing for this exact reason.
Make sure that the bowl and beaters you use are absolutely clean. Any trace of oil, dish soap or water in the bowl, or any hint of yolk, and the egg whites will rebel and go flat on you. When it comes to attending a party, they like to go stag.
Ok…let’s get going.
Start by whipping 4 egg whites slowly at first.
Egg white proteins apparently don’t like to be tousled without a nice warm up first. I mean, we wouldn’t expect a big, sloppy kiss at the beginning of a first date. A strong start on high speed will not intimidate those whites into stiff peak submission. Instead, they turn passive-aggressive by turning gooey and ruining your dessert. (Chemically speaking, the protein strands break.) Instead, beat your egg whites in a metal bowl on medium-low speed for 3 minutes before adding anything else.
At this point, add some cream of tartar. Its function is to bond the proteins in the egg whites to one another. Adding 1/16 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white does the trick. Switch the speed to medium high and beat for another 6 minutes or so. Your eggs will now look like this.
Once you see foam and can create droopy peaks by lifting up the beaters, start gradually adding one and a quarter tablespoon of sugar per egg white. The goal is to continue adding it, a tablespoon or so at a time, right up to the very end of the whipping process.
Doing so ensures that the sugar doesn’t get in the way while the proteins are bonding. Many people successfully use granulated sugar, but I prefer to use the powdered form since it is light and airy. Kind of like properly whipped egg whites.
Which you can then add to chocolate or anything else you’re in the mood for.