Tiramisu, meringues or macaroons in preparation? You will therefore need to whip your egg whites. To be sure you succeed, you trust your electric mixer and your magic pinch of salt. But is the effect of sodium chloride really proven?
The received idea about the pinch of salt
Like mayonnaise, by whipping by hand or using a food processor, we incorporate air into our preparations. It is a chemical reaction that we find with egg whites. So what does salt do in this story? Sodium chloride would help to clump the egg proteins around the air bubbles and therefore provide volume and firmness more quickly. Be aware that salt is actually useless in the preparation of egg whites other than to enhance the taste. Try whipping whites with and without salt: the result will be the same. Raphaël Haumont explains to us in his book “A Chemist in the Kitchen” that only the action of whisking and incorporating air counts.
Why do I fail my stiff egg whites?
If your egg whites are not whipped correctly, you may have let some yolk escape when you clarify your eggs (term meaning the action of separating the white from the yolk). Another reason: you didn’t beat them enough and there are whites left at the bottom. Conversely, you may also have beaten them too much. They may therefore become grainy and separate. As for resting time, if you let them rest too much, they risk sagging and losing consistency. Do not panic. In this case, to catch up, Hervé Thys, a scientist who studies culinary transformations at INRA, reveals a tip for giving volume to egg whites. He points out that if you add a small amount of cold water, your whites will continue to rise.
The real trick that works
So you’re wondering what’s the trick to making your snow whites a success? To start: the eggs should be at room temperature. You may have been influenced by the presence of an egg compartment in your fridge, but eggs should never be kept cold. If you usually store them in the refrigerator, take them out at least 30 minutes before whipping them. When you separate the whites from the yolks, there should be no trace of yellow or shell sheen in the whites. If there is unfortunately a bit of yolk, add a drop of lemon juice which, through its acidity, captures the fat of the yolk and neutralizes it so that it mixes with the whites as if nothing had happened. In other words: the acidity will burn the fat of the yolk. Otherwise, start whisking rather slowly and gradually increase the speed until you obtain an airy and firm result at the same time. It is important to whisk gradually so that the air is incorporated evenly so as not to break up the air bubbles and to obtain a homogeneous mixture.
Perfect snow whites
It is essential not to miss the egg whites since they are the basis of our preparations. What will your tiramisu be if you don’t tighten your whites correctly? There will then be no firmness in the tiramisu which, even after being kept cool, will remain liquid if the whites are messed up. To find out if they are successful, do the test: if your stiff egg whites form a “bird’s beak” when you lift the whisk or if the whites hold together when you tip the bowl over, you’re a winner!