Sugar, flour, milk, egg whites and a pinch of salt... The colour white is strongly evocative of dessert. And the queen of all white ingredients is the egg white, whipped into snowy peaks. Here's a quick insight into some of its secrets.
It's no yolk! Yolk and white need to be perfectly separated. Even a trace of yolk will turn the whole thing into mission impossible. So be very careful when separating your eggs, and don't worry about leaving some white around your yolks if you have to.
If whipping by hand, whip from bottom to top, gently at first then more and more vigorously but without hitting the sides of the bowl. Finish by whipping quickly in small circles.
If using a food mixer, put the egg whites in the bowl with a pinch of salt, then beat slowly at first before increasing the speed. For four egg whites, it will take about 1 minute 45 seconds at medium speed, then 30 seconds at top speed.
Don't over-beat - if you try to make the mixture too stiff, it will end up going grainy, lose its smoothness and disintegrate when you finish whipping.
Make it fresh. Never beat your egg whites in advance - always just before you need to use them in your recipe.
Don't use eggs that are too fresh. The whites of very fresh eggs are extremely thick and compact and harder to bind together. If you've just bought them from the farm, start by beating them at a very slow speed so as to break up the egg whites before whipping them.
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