Adding things into meringue -- is it possible?
I've been playing around with a coconut cream pie recipe that is a custard on the bottom and then a meringue (instead of whipped cream) on top.
My question is -- is it possible to add other things into a meringue on top of a pie? Or will it mess with the setting of the meringue?
I've wanted to add some salty peanut powder into it, because I think that would compliment the coconut well -- but I'm not sure if its possible to make a peanuty-flavored meringue itself, or if I'm better incorporating the peanut powder and sea salt elsewhere (like perhaps a thin layer of it between the custard and the meringue).
Of course, all this assumes I can actually make a meringue to top a pie in the first place - and if my first two attempts are any indication, the answer is "no" :)
Love the idea! i've never done it, but I don't see why you couldn't. After all, a whole lot of flour and sugar gets folded into meringue when you make an angel food cake.
My prefered method for meringue involves cooking the whites and sugar a bit over boiling water in a double boiler, and whisking them until they are fluffy. Then I remove the bowl, stick it in the stand mixer, and mix away. I just find that this bit of heat helps stabilized the meringue, and takes away the grainey texture that a meringe baked in the oven has. After I put the meringe on the pie in swoopy swirls, i torch the peaks and edges w/ a kitchen torch. here's a pic of a bananna pudding given this treatment.
You can add sweet spices to a meringue, like cinnamom, cardamom, nutmeg or mixed pie spice blends; lavender flowers or any citrus zest, sifted cocoa powder or instant espresso powder. You can use any variety of extracts, vanilla, anise, coconut, peppermint or almond. Finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut, crushed caramlized sugar or grated unsweetened chocolate can be folded in as well, after the meringue is made. The flavoring all depends on what you're using the meringue for.
Using a powder, zest or extact for flavoring is much more preferable to using liquids that may cause the meringue to be thinner and not hold it's shape. Although I haven't tried it, I think folding no sugar-added peanut butter into a finished meringue will work quite well. Start by folding small amount of meringue into the peanut butter to lighten and loosen the mix, and then add the rest.
First, though, you have to be able to make meringue.;-}} I use superfine or bar sugar, or sifted confectioner's, rather than granulated, for meringue. No graininess. Gently heating the egg white and sugar mixture first, as danna, describes, gives you a definite edge.
Sure, the peanut butter meringue recipe I found was for cookies, and the peanut was folded into the whipped egg white, piped and baked. I intially thought that the fat would be a big issue, but, having used nuts in meringues with success, and after reading the rather simple recipe through, it seems like it would work.
I've made Dacquoise layers and never had the meringue start to break down, but I didn't dawdle with it, either. You make 'em, bake 'em and done. Who leaves meringue sitting around?
If the OP is planning on using peanut powder, it may be quite successful. I'm hoping the OP will post results.
I just read an idea for fruit (berry) flavored meringues, made with pureed fresh berries, blackberries or raspberries, sieved to remove seeds, and the resulting puree folded into the meringue. Would make a nice macaroon.
There's a recipe for raspberry meringue in a Swedish cookbook, and it's a beautiful pink color. I've had beet meringues at a MG restaurant, and it was gorgeous. I think one has to dehydrate and pulverize the beets first. I agree with other posters that powders are better than wet ingredients.
I'm confused about the trouble some are having making meringues - I've always just thrown egg whites with regular sugar and whatever in a bowl and beat away, to total success. The only thing I'm careful about is that everything is free of fat.
BTW: I prefer the varigated browning from torching, but my kid likes the even browness from a hot oven.
I've made a lot of nut meringues, and yes, the oil from the nuts does make the meringue break down, so you must move quickly.
Once your meringue is made, fold in very fine nuts and then pipe, spread, whatever, and into the oven.
I like to use the nut dust you get when you sift chopped nuts. It is like a nut powder, and works well in meringues.
Haven't used a nut meringue to top a pie though. I generally make a nut vacherin or nut meringue cookie. Please let us know how it turns out!
Thanks for the help! Now I'll just have to bake a few pies -- and find people to eat them -- while I perfect this technique :)
I will try the method you describe, danna, and see how it goes. Maybe this will make it easier for me than the non-heated method I was using. I'm assuming that, when you make meringue the way youd escribe, there's no need for placing in the oven for a few minutes?
I could try adding peanut butter into the mix, but I thought I'd work with peanut powder first, mostly because I have it on hand most of the time, and I rarely have P.B. around.
I'll experiment a bit and let you all know what I come up with.
"there's no need for placing in the oven for a few minutes?"
What, to brown it? You will still have to do that to get that effect or torch it with a brulee torch, as danna does. Bake in a 400° oven for 5-6 minutes, or until done to your liking, to brown.
Photo of lemon meringue pie with browned top:
I would use an Italian meringue and then fold in the peanut powder. It won't be as fluffy as before folding, but I make nut meringue all the time. It works fine.
Swiss meringue will also work, but I think Italian is more stable from my experience.
I had another thought as to your meringue problem: are you using a plastic bowl? Plastic can hold oil, so if you are using one try a glass or stainless steel bowl instead.