I have a lot of eggs, so, consequently, I eat a lot of eggs. Sometimes for breakfast, sometimes in baked goods, and sometimes I try to do something snazzy. Usually the snazzy recipes require separating the yolk from the white, and using one or the other. It’s kind of fun because you really start to understand the properties of your eggs when you use them as parts. For example, the white is mostly protein (albumen). It can be whipped up into a light foam, or mixed into a pie to increase the protein content without really changing the taste. Adding extra albumen to gluten free baked goods really helps counteract the density that you normally get from gluten free flours. Some people with egg allergies find that they can eat the white with no problems, others prefer the whites because of cholesterol concerns, or maybe you just don’t want the calories that come with the yolk. If you’re like me, you end up with a lot of whites because you’ve made some fancy custard using all the yolks.
Whatever the reason, you now have a container full of egg whites in your refrigerator and you’d like to use them up. Here are some of my favorite, easy recipes for just the whites. Before starting any of these, you will want to take the whites out of the refrigerator an hour or two ahead of time to let them come to room temperature. If you’ll be whipping them, make sure there is absolutely no yolk in there, and that everything that touches your whites is free of any oils.
Meringue is just albumen that has been whipped into submission, and it is incredibly easy to do. In a metal bowl start mixing with the beater on low. As the whites begin to incorporate air, they will start to become thicker. These recipes are all for 4 egg whites, but you can double that, or do 50% more, or whatever you need.
Once the whipped eggs are looking white, start adding sugar very gradually while continuing to beat. Plan on ¼ cup of sugar for each egg white, and kind of sprinkle it in while the mixer is going.
When all the sugar is in, continue to beat. At this point you can increase the speed to medium, or fast if you are wanting stiffer meringue. Keep beating until peaks form in your beaten egg whites. Think of whipped cream – a little stiffer than that.
Adding a teaspoon of tarter per four egg whites will help your meringue keep it’s stiffness, but you can get away without it.
Great. A bowl of whipped egg. Now what? Ah, now the good stuff.
Pecan cookies: Fold 1 cup of crushed, toasted pecans into your egg whites. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put into an oven that has been heated to 300 degrees. Turn the oven OFF, and leave your cookies there until tomorrow. They should be crispy and light and kind of dissolve in your mouth. If they’re still chewy, let them dry out longer.
Chocolate cookies: Fold in 1 cup of miniature chocolate chips (you can substitute other flavored chips as well). Follow the directions above to let your cookies dry out.
Other cookies: You get the idea. You can mix solids in to your meringue, like nuts, but don’t add liquid flavorings (like vanilla) unless it’s a teaspoon or less. Too much added liquid will collapse your meringue and you won’t get that puffy mouthful that dissolves when you bite. This is a great way to use up the “crumbs” that are left from a batch of spiced nuts, or cleanup from sugar cookies. Be creative, just watch your proportions.
Very similar to the cookies you’ve just made, except you’ll be adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the egg whites, and stirring in 5 cups of shredded and well chopped coconut. The extra chopping step makes for a nicer looking cookie.
For meringue cookies, you’re using the albumen as the structure; for macaroons it’s the coconut serving that purpose. You should have a bowl of shredded coconut that’s thoroughly coated with the egg white mixture.
Drop onto cookie sheets with a teaspoon. If you want you can kind of shape these with your fingers for a classier cookie look.
Bake for 20 minutes at 325, until the tops are becoming golden.
Angel food cake – gluten free
The trick to this is, again, whipping up the egg whites properly. If you skipped the meringue section, go back and read the first paragraph.
- 10 egg whites (about a cup)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp cream of tartar (not required, but it makes it easier to whip the egg whites)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup of starch (corn, potato, or half and half)
- ¼ cup of sugar
Start beating your egg whites on low.
Mix 1 cup of sugar, the salt and the cream of tartar together
When the whites are beginning to thicken, add the vanilla, then begin sprinkling the sugar mixture on while continuing to beat. Keep beating on medium speed until the whites are forming stiff peaks.
In a separate bowl mix the starch with ¼ cup of sugar. Gently fold this into the egg whites. Essentially you sprinkle some on top of the egg whites, then use a rubber spatula to gently pull the whites over the top of the starch. Continue doing this until the starch has been folded in to the egg whites. Don’t over mix.
Gently spoon the batter in to an ungreased angel food cake pan. It has a hole in the middle. Smooth the top a bit, then bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Your cake should be starting to brown on top and have pulled away from the sides of the pan.
When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool upside down. Leave it for at least an hour before removing from pan. This will help to keep it from collapsing.
Angel food cake is even more heavenly when served with fresh, sliced strawberries, or drizzled with fruit sauce and topped with whipped cream.