Perfectly whipped egg whites are the key to many light and fluffy desserts like meringues, mousses, and soufflés. Egg whites add air and lightness, but they need to be whipped properly to add these properties.
Here are some tips to do it perfectly – every time:
1. Start with fresh eggs, at room temperature (a minimum of 30 minutes at room temp). Insider tip: To quickly bring refrigerated eggs to room temperature, place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for about 10 minutes.
2. Use perfectly clean, dried utensils (either a whisk if you are whipping by hand – your arms might be sore the next day! – or a whisk attachment for an electric mixer) and a deep, non-plastic bowl. Any oily residue can interfere with your egg whites.
3. Start beating the whites at low speed until they are foamy, and then and move on to medium or even medium-high when beating your whites. Do not beat on high.
4. Add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar at the foamy stage to speed up whipping and help to stabilize the whites.
5. The “soft peaks” stage is when you pull the whisk out of the whites and a peak forms – and then flops over.
6. If the recipe calls for sugar, slowly add at the soft peak stage.
7. The “stiff peaks” stage is when the whites are smooth and glossy and the peaks stay straight up (*see the first photo with the peaks formed on the whisk and photo above). To test, you can turn your bowl upside down and the egg whites stay put (a good party trick, too!). At this point you can gently fold your whites into other ingredients.
8. You’ll know you have over-beaten your whites if the mixture starts to break down,if there is liquid weeping, and it looks grainy. You can try and add another white to recover the mixture, but you probably need to start over. Sorry!
9. To fold whipped egg whites into a base mixture (like the chocolate and egg yolk mixture in our Easy Chocolate Soufflé recipe ), first stir in a small dollop of the egg whites into the base mixture. It will be lumpy.
Then place the rest of the egg whites on top of the chocolate mixture and fold in by taking a rubber spatula and cutting down the middle of the mixture. Take the spatula and fold half of the egg whites on top of the other half of the egg whites. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Continue this turn, cut and fold routine until combined and slightly lumpy.
Now that you’ve mastered glossy, perfectly beaten egg whites, how about a chocolate soufflé? Try it for yourself!