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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Low-Carb Meringues (LC, GF, SF)

Not surprisingly, following the cinnamon star cookie post, here’s one about low-carb meringues.

The recipe is pretty much the same, the method is however different and it leads to delectable, very-close-to-real-meringues, delight!  If you’re looking for the kind of meringues that are hard through and through, let them dry out thoroughly!
If you are into the crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside kind of meringue, you have to watch them a little more. It’s all in the drying time!
This is definitely one of the times where the erythritol/xylitol tendency to recrystallize works in our favor though!

Sugar-Free and Low-Carb Mini Meringues

* You get much more volume out of egg whites at room temperature when whipping!


Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 225 F.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, powdered erythritol and salt until frothy. Under constant beating, dust in the polydextrose, little by little.

Once you have soft peaks, add the Ideal, again little by little and under constant beating until you have somewhat stiff peaks and it will look quite glossy. It’s important to use the erythritol first, as it takes the longest to dissolve! Add everything slowly at this stage as it helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. However, don't over-beat. When ready, the mixture should be thick and glossy. (see below)

Add the bakery emulsion and whip a tad more to incorporate. Fill  the meringue mix into a Ziploc bag (or a piping bag with a fancy tip if that is what you’re going for) and snip the corner of the bag.

Now pipe your desired shape on the lined cookie sheets.
You could also scoop up a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. Using another dessertspoon, ease it on to the baking sheet to make an oval shape - or any other shape you desire.

Depending on the size of your meringues, bake for 25 minutes. Watch them and take them out earlier if they show any sign of too much browning. If they get a little beige, that’s ok, it tends to happen more with these and the flavor won’t be affected if they stay a light beige. They will however change their flavor if you let them get brown!
Turn off your oven and let the meringues sit in there for 8-10 hrs. We’re not really baking them anymore, we’re just drying them out further. I do this overnight.
In the morning your have perfectly crunchy meringues! And it takes them this long to get crunchy. They will be quite sticky, then leathery for the longest time and you might think it will never get there. And then they do!
You could also just let them sit on the counter overnight if you prefer, but make sure it’s a dry environment, otherwise it will take longer to dry out or never quite get there if you have a lot of moisture in the air!
For crunchy through and through meringues you just let them dry as long as they need. Lift one off the parchment after about 8 hours and check if it comes off all the way yet.

How long this drying takes very much depends on temperature and moisture levels in your home. It may very well take much longer for you than it does for me. Usually overnight will get me to dry through and through stage, but it’s very dry around here.
However, we’ve had rain for 3 days running, which is unusual around here and my last batch needed about 14 hours to get to crunchy on the outside and the slightest bit of a chewy center stage and 17 hours to dry all the way through. That is with half of the drying time happening on the countertop as I needed the oven for other things!
So, what I’m saying is, be patient - there seems to be no hard and fast rule on how long it will take!
All the above is for the mini meringue size shown in the picture. It will be even longer for larger sizes.

Once the meringues get to the dry stage, they will now keep in an airtight tin for several months. I haven’t tried freezing them yet!


A word on substitutions. Chances are, they won’t work.
I have experimented for years with getting the perfect sugar-free meringue and other combinations of sugar-substitutes have failed miserably for one reason or another. The only substitutions that may work are differing amounts of xylitol and erythritol and maybe replacing some of the ideal with more xylitol. It does however seem to need some of the maltodextrin that comes with the ideal to a) cut the cooling sensation from the xylitol/erythritol a bit and, b) improve the texture.
The only other substitutes that might work, are maltitol, sorbitol or isomalt based sugar substitutes. I don’t really use those for a variety of reasons.

The polydextrose is optional in a pinch. However, I would recommend using it, as it really helps to bind and stabilize the egg whites. So I would say, if you try it without polydextrose and you’re having texture issues or your meringue fell flat or was weeping (watery liquid seeping form the bottom)  and you’re sure you whipped everything sufficiently, then I would try the polydextrose next time around! It just really helps to make this meringue making business simpler!
And if you are looking for that slight chew inside the crispy meringue shell, you definitely need  the polydextrose! The chew factor won’t happen without it!

Edited to add on 5-16-2012 : I just pulled out the tin I had the left-over meringues from Christmas stored in, to see how they would do in the long run and  I am happy to report that they are just perfect. They are still the same crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency they were when they went in!

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  1. Wow. So I found your site late last night after first stumbling upon “I Dream of Food All Day” (score!), and your blog hooked me; I stayed up way too late reading the awesome info. you have here.
    I've been on Atkins for nearly a year (have read and seen most of Taubes’ research on the topic) and my interest in cooking and now baking have been ignited; but I am very inexperienced in the kitchen considering that I’m in my 40s. I am so grateful for you sharing your trials and know-how....it gives me enthusiasm for learning my way around the kitchen – you are a natural writer and teacher!

  2. Thanks so much, Cyndi! I'm happy you're getting something out of this blog! Happy cooking/baking!

  3. Hi Birgit, this recipe looks very promising for cripsy meringues, however my oven doesnt have a good seal on it anything left in there is soggy by next morning, so i was wondering if a food dehydrator would suitable after baking to assist in creating the "crispy' meringue? also, what would cause a meringue to collapse when the oven door opens? does this mean they are not ready yet?

  4. Hi Expose Clothing,
    I don't really know how your oven or a food processor may affect your meringues. All I can say is, try it and let us know! :)
    As for collapsing meringues, there can be a lot of reasons.
    Overbeating can be a cause of collapsing meringue, not beating it enough can be too. Your equipment needs to also be COMPLETELY free of any kind of fat or oil, as that interferes with the structure of the proteins too and causes collapse. Another reason could be older egg whites. Older egg whites can form big but unstable air bubbles which later collapse.

    The most common cause for collapsed meringues is however beating them too fast. Wwhen you whip egg whites for a meringue, start them on low or medium low speed, and increase it only when they become foamy. Then, increase to medium before finishing them at high speed.


  5. Hi Birgit!
    I was pointed to this recipe by folks at lcf forum... Im try to make sf meringues also. My first try had xylitol in them and after overnight, they were firmly stuck to the parchment, and leathery as you described. You think longer is the solution? I threw those out...
    I just don't have faith that they'll ever get dry...? But you're sure they will?

  6. Hi Soren, yes I would try longer. However, it's hard for me to gauge what else may or may not have happened
    As for "being sure" that they will ever get dry - no.
    I can only tell you of my own experiences and those of my recipe testers. And those meringues did get lovely and dry, just like regular meringues.
    Did you use all the ingredients as stated or did you use substitutions?
    Substitutions can really throw things off in a big way!
    I hope that helps! Have a great evening!


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Birgit Kerr