Whisking Egg Whites
Photography by: Jason Hamilton
Everything you need to know to get perfectly whisked egg whites every time.
When you whisk egg whites what you are actually doing is whisking air into them. The result is tiny little bubbles of air living inside your egg whites. It is these air bubbles that give egg white based desserts that light and airy texture.
A great example to demonstrate how these little air bubbles live inside the egg whites is that of the souffle. A souffle consists of predominantly whisked egg whites, in other words eggs whites full of little air bubbles. These air bubbles when put in the oven expand (as any air does when heated) and it is this expansion of air trapped in those little bubbles that causes a well made souffle to so impressively stand up out of dish.
Whether whisking egg whites for a souffle, meringue or mousse the key is having the right tools for the job. Those tools come down to 3 things; fresh room temperature eggs, a balloon whisk, and a very clean large stainless steel bowl.
Allow me to explain why these are the 3 most important things to consider when whisking egg whites.
- Place the egg whites in the stainless steel bowl.
- Add a small pinch of salt (optional).
- Whisk vigorously with the balloon whisk until desired consistency is achieved.
- Egg whites whisked to soft peaks will appear slightly foamy and will leave a soft rounded trail where the whisk has been. Soft peaks are what you want for souffles and mousses as they will be folded with other ingredients. Stiff whites do not incorporate other ingredients well.
- Egg whites whisked to stiff peaks will feel harder to move the whisk through, they will appear shiny and they will stay standing up in peaks when you lift them up with the whisk. Stiff peak egg whites are what you want for meringue nests or Pavlova's.
- Egg whites that have been over whisked will start to form little individual sections, as though the whole mix is a series of small cotton balls piled together.