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Help me trouble-shoot my meringues!

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ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 05:28 PM

This is just getting annoying, and I need your help. My mother has made meringue cookies for every holiday for as long as I can remember, and I have taken over the tradition. Sometimes mine come out wonderful, and other times they don't (hers are always great). My batch from last night are too sticky. Her method is to stick them in the oven after baking something else, so usually it's at 350, leaves them in for 5-10 minutes and then turns the oven off and leaves it overnight. I've not had luck with that method as mine get browned in just three minutes. So I've done the two hours at 200 method and then turned it off. Still sticky, but only sometimes. I just don't understand the inconsistency. So let me list potential problems, and a meringue master out there can help me.
- gas oven, which could account for my browning and my mom's not
- live in Portland, OR where it rains, a lot!
- undermixing?
- overmixing?

I don't know what else. Someone, please help. I love these cookies, and when they turn out they are fabulous!

Thanks so much everyone.

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  1. Clare K RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 05:46 PM

    Do you have a separate thermometer in your oven? It could just be that your oven is 50-100 degrees higher than the knob says it is. Hence the burning.

    From my experience with meringues, overnight in a closed oven is the best method. Do not open that door at all during that night.

    If it's not your oven, I would have to say it's the Portland moisture.

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      pamd RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 05:55 PM

      not sure about being a master, but I've never had them burn or be sticky, and always have come out well. the method I use is that I preheat the oven to 350, and when it beeps I turn it off & then put them in over night- and do not open the door at all.
      Also, I add the sugar 1 tsp at a time while beating the egg whites- and beat until stiff & shiny.

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        torty RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 06:26 PM

        I do 4 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 cup granulated sugar (for comparison purposes). Preheated 250 degree (gas) oven for one and a half hours, check if almost dry (leave longer in 10 minute increments if too sticky, and then leave overnite in turned off oven.I agree that the moistness of your environment could be a factor cuz I am in dry So Cal.

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          ScarletB RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 07:28 PM

          My mom's in dry So Cal as well. Hmm, that could be the problem. I haven't actually checked the internal temp of my oven, so I definitely will start there. I have about the same recipe of Torty, although I don't use salt (not sure why), and I add walnuts and chocolate chips, or coconut, or whatever I'm in the mood for. Mom always uses walnuts, choc chips, and corn flakes.
          I never open the oven door after it's turned off, although I'm always tempted to. I think I'm going to make another batch tonight and see what happens. It's pouring rain currently, and so far in November we've had 10 inches, which will end up being the wettest November on record. Why do I live here? Topic for a different post I'm sure.
          Thanks everyone! Appreciate your responses.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ScarletB
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            torty RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 10:23 PM

            Well good luck w/ the rain! Since they are like sponges, as soon as you open the oven door in the morning you may want to rush them into an airtight container- I use a large zip lock bag. I also add chocolate chips. My mom used to add walnuts. I think for Christmas I will try hazelnuts, and also some w/ crushed candycanes/peppermints. You inspired me to make some tonite so I pulled the eggs out and will get them going after my pumpkin seeds are done (the pumpkin patch gave away free pumpkins after Halloween, and I overtoasted the ones from the jack-o-lanterns!)Thank you

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            pamd RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 08:23 PM

            I don't use the same ingredients...here's all that I use:
            2 egg whites
            3/4 cup white sugar
            1 tsp vanilla extract
            1/2 tsp salt (I use low sodium)
            chocolate chips (I like the mini ones)

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              torty RE: ScarletB Nov 22, 2006 10:36 PM

              One more thought- if your oven is self-cleaning and has that locking lever that really seals the door you may want to pop that in place maybe an hour or so agfter you turn the oven off- allowing to cool down, but before that nasty moisture can find its way to your crispy meringues.

              1 Reply
              1. re: torty
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                ScarletB RE: torty Nov 23, 2006 01:03 AM

                I will have to investigate. I love the candy cane idea for Christmas! Never thought of that. Well, enjoy your batch tomorrow. They are so great for Thanksgiving because they are so light, you don't feel bad poppin' a few after the big meal (or before). By the way Torty, I made some candied pumpkin seeds for Halloween to snack on (and some pumpkin seed brittle), and put them on a roasted beet salad with blue cheese. They were fantastic. I think I found the recipe for the candied ones on Epicurious.
                Thanks all!

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                llaurra RE: ScarletB Jun 18, 2011 06:26 AM

                Thanks so much for posting this question! Nearly 5 years after your post date, I'm searching for an answer to the same question. I had figured humidity was a reason for the inconsistency I was seeing as well, and this post helped confirm it. I'll have to experiment to see how I can work around this. If you found any solutions, I'd love to know!

                1 Reply
                1. re: llaurra
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                  baby_tran RE: llaurra Dec 15, 2011 08:56 AM

                  Thanks...I just tried baking meringue cookies for the first time and ran into this problem...now I know! They were fine coming out of the oven but I left them on the counter to cool and by the time they did, they had deflated and were sticky.

                  If using "the oven overnight" method, will they hold longer when left out for serving?

                  Thanks

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