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Dried Egg Whites


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I actually had some dried egg whites from a local grocery some years ago that did not taste totally disgusting (when flavored with other ingredients in a recipe), but the store quit carrying them, and I don't recall the brand name. I am encouraged by the fact that Peter Greweling calls for using either fresh or powdered egg whites in aerated recipes, meaning that he must have located at least one that tasted OK. Today I found powdered egg whites from Modernist Pantry (a business of which, if I recall correctly, various eGullet contributors have spoken positively). The website has a video showing these egg whites being reconstituted and whipped into a meringue, with the claim that one cannot tell them from fresh egg whites. I will order some of this powder and report back. 

 

I am working on a bonbon filling, this one based on Susanna Yoon's take on the French pastry called marjolaine. In a much-viewed video Susanna uses gelatin-based marshmallow, but in her recipe published in So Good magazine, she calls for fresh egg white-based meringue. Not wishing to use fresh eggs in bonbons (even cooked ones), I have made a gelatin-based meringue twice (trying to guess at her recipe); once was successful, but the second time the baked meringue cookies puffed up (as desired) but many of them split open in the oven. In both cases, the meringue mixture is very fragile, and any attempt to bake a second batch from the mixture comes out as an almost completely flat cookie (which is delicious but totally different from the baked nut meringue used in the original marjolaine).  Thus the conclusion that egg whites are the only reliable way of making the dacquoise layer. And by using actual dacquoise, I can probably adapt Susanna's recipe from So Good.  The taste of the various marjolaine layers together is good enough to keep me searching for a reliable, reproducible way of making this filling.

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Maybe we intend something different with the word "disgusting". All dried wgg whites taste/smell like old eggs (there's a word in Italian language just for this, that has no translation in English, at least I could not find one), which is not pleasant (aka "disgusting"). You detect it if you reconstitute the whites and don't add much stuff, if you start adding other ingredients then it gets covered. As far as I know there are no dried egg whites on sale which do not have this taste/smell (I've never been happy to open a bag of dried egg whites, don't like that smell). If you say you found "good" dried egg whites and "disgusting" ones, then this should mean that the disgusting ones were ones that went bad, so the seller gave you a defective product.


As far as producers, most stuff that is sold here is not on sale in the USA. Sosa products are, their Ovoneve (brand name for dried egg whites) is reliable.


For your use, you are totally correct to avoid bringing fresh raw eggs in a chocolate kitchen, much better to avoid these risks. But you would get better results starting with pasteurized egg whites, not the dried ones. You run no risks with pasteurized egg whites, they are safe. After baking they are even safer. Pasteurized egg whites whip better than reconstituted whites (water + dried egg whites), plus you avoid the hassle of mixing the dried ones with water and wait some times for them to hydrate.


I haven't understood what you are aiming to achieve. The original marjolaine is made with dacquoise, which has a soft texture, it's more similar to a biscuit joconde than to a meringue. The original marjolaine gets clean cuts, it would not be possible if the dacquoise layers were cooked farther and become crisp (meringue-like). Using a soft dacquoise in a bonbon is not advisable, for the usual aW troubles.
If you make a gelatin based marshmallow then you should pipe it in the bonbon without baking. If you bake it then gelatin is going to melt in the oven, leading to loss of shape and other troubles.
I would suggest to use the original dacquoise recipe, then baking it more than it's done for the original marjolaine, until the dacquoise becomes crisp like a meringue. I suppose you are going to make small rounds of this to add as a layer in molded bonbons, right? If so, then how are you forming the disks? Spread a layer of dacquoise, cook it, cut the circles while soft, then put again in the oven to get crisp? Or are you piping the circles directly by hand on the parchment paper? To speed up this process you can buy a dedicated chablon: it's a piece of plastic the size of a pan, with shaped holes all over it. It should be easy to find a chablon that suits your needs, there are lots of sizes for chablons with round holes.

 

 


Teo

 

Teo

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7 hours ago, teonzo said:

Maybe we intend something different with the word "disgusting". All dried wgg whites taste/smell like old eggs (there's a word in Italian language just for this, that has no translation in English, at least I could not find one), which is not pleasant (aka "disgusting"). You detect it if you reconstitute the whites and don't add much stuff, if you start adding other ingredients then it gets covered. As far as I know there are no dried egg whites on sale which do not have this taste/smell (I've never been happy to open a bag of dried egg whites, don't like that smell). If you say you found "good" dried egg whites and "disgusting" ones, then this should mean that the disgusting ones were ones that went bad, so the seller gave you a defective product.


As far as producers, most stuff that is sold here is not on sale in the USA. Sosa products are, their Ovoneve (brand name for dried egg whites) is reliable.


For your use, you are totally correct to avoid bringing fresh raw eggs in a chocolate kitchen, much better to avoid these risks. But you would get better results starting with pasteurized egg whites, not the dried ones. You run no risks with pasteurized egg whites, they are safe. After baking they are even safer. Pasteurized egg whites whip better than reconstituted whites (water + dried egg whites), plus you avoid the hassle of mixing the dried ones with water and wait some times for them to hydrate.


I haven't understood what you are aiming to achieve. The original marjolaine is made with dacquoise, which has a soft texture, it's more similar to a biscuit joconde than to a meringue. The original marjolaine gets clean cuts, it would not be possible if the dacquoise layers were cooked farther and become crisp (meringue-like). Using a soft dacquoise in a bonbon is not advisable, for the usual aW troubles.
If you make a gelatin based marshmallow then you should pipe it in the bonbon without baking. If you bake it then gelatin is going to melt in the oven, leading to loss of shape and other troubles.
I would suggest to use the original dacquoise recipe, then baking it more than it's done for the original marjolaine, until the dacquoise becomes crisp like a meringue. I suppose you are going to make small rounds of this to add as a layer in molded bonbons, right? If so, then how are you forming the disks? Spread a layer of dacquoise, cook it, cut the circles while soft, then put again in the oven to get crisp? Or are you piping the circles directly by hand on the parchment paper? To speed up this process you can buy a dedicated chablon: it's a piece of plastic the size of a pan, with shaped holes all over it. It should be easy to find a chablon that suits your needs, there are lots of sizes for chablons with round holes.

 

 


Teo

 

 

Your reply is, as usual, very helpful. I like the idea of pasteurized, fresh egg whites; I'll have to see if I can find them locally.  I have access to Sosa products, but (without checking) assume the container is going to be much larger than I can cope with, given that I will not be making this filling all that often and given the short shelf life of dried egg whites.

 

Susanna Yoon (originator of this bonbon filling) made it work with gelatin-based marshmallow, and, as I reported, it worked for me the first time. But I believe egg whites will produce a more reliable recipe.  The recipes I have seen for marjolaine (the cake) call for meringue layers, which start out quite crisp but, because they are adjacent to components such as pastry cream or butter cream or ganache (depending on the recipe), they soften as they sit, and nearly all recipes assume the cake will not be served immediately. I have seen several references to Fernand Point's original recipe that lead people to believe he used meringue (with nuts folded in), but it seems a bit hazy.  I haven't seen any reference to a softer layer that you mentioned, except in cases where people are adapting the recipe.  In any event, it's the nut meringue that I am going to use (and have used in the version that I have made). In Susanna Yoon's video, there is a big point made of how crunchy the meringue cookies are on the outside, but soft inside. That's what I am aiming for. She does, by the way, sprinkle them with confectioner's sugar just before baking them.

 

I was quite pleased to see your recommendation that I get a chablon for shaping the cookies because that's exactly what I did!  I was surprised that I found one with circles the size I needed to fit in the molds I am using, but Chocolat Chocolat in Montreal is an amazing place. The chablon worked quite well to keep the cookies in shape. What Yoon does is to pipe them without a guide of any kind (her piping skills are impressive), and she lets them rise as they will, then turns them upside down into the ganache in the shell, so they soften as they sit--unlike the usual goal of keeping cookies crisp by surrounding them with something like a gianduja.  So what I did is to fill the shells about 1/3 with a hazelnut gianduja ganache made with dark chocolate, then another 1/3 of almond gianduja ganache made with a combination of milk and white chocolate--to keep it more like an almond cream, then inserted the nut meringue cookie with the pointed, risen side down. I must say I am pleased with the flavor combination, and after I get the cookie to be something I can produce reliably (which I think the egg white meringue rather than gelatin marshmallow will accomplish), I will be satisfied.  The Aw, by the way, of the two ganaches was quite within acceptable limits, and although I didn't check the cookies, they were crisp enough that I can't see a problem with them.

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14 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I like the idea of pasteurized, fresh egg whites; I'll have to see if I can find them locally.

 

All supermarkets here sell pasteurized egg whites. Few of them sell yolks and whole eggs, but whites are sold everywhere. They are in the fridge section near milk and cream. They are packaged in tetrapack, each one contains 500 g egg whites, cost is 1.50€ on average. I suppose you should be able to find them there too, since there is a much bigger choice of packaged stuff in the USA.

 

 

 

15 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I have access to Sosa products, but (without checking) assume the container is going to be much larger than I can cope with,

 

Definetely a problem, especially because Sosa stuff is not cheap.

 

 

About hte marjolaine, the original was made with dacquoise. I can see why people talk about meringue on the various webpages, that's because few people know what a dacquoise really is and they assume it's meringue-like.
A dacquoise is meringue based for sure, since you start with egg whites and sugar to get a soft meringue. Then you add the ground nuts and optionally some flour. Usual ratios are 1 part egg whites, 1.5 part sugar, 1 part nuts. Sugar is less than a usual meringue (should be 2 parts in a usual meringue). Dacquoise is cooked until it retains its shape and remains soft, here lies the main error made by people who don't know what a dacquoise is. They see it's meringue based and baked and suppose it musts be crisp like meringues (the cookies). If you keep baking it then it becomes crisp, that's for sure, but it's not what a dacquoise is supposed to be. The real difficulty in making a dacquoise is being able to judge when it's at the correct stage of baking, it takes some experience.
Meringue baking works similarly. If you take it out of the oven after few time, then it retains its shape and is soft. If you keep baking, then the outer sides become crisp while the interior remains soft. If you keep baking more, then it becomes completely crisp (which is what people aim for meringue cookies).
If you want to have both a crisp part and a soft part, then you can bake the meringue disks until they are crisp outside and soft inside, which is pretty easy to check: take one out of the oven, bite it and see by yourself. Then you can spray with cocoa butter or dark chocolate (would go with this) or what else, so you are sure the texture will remain the one you wished for.
If you put the meringue disk over the ganache without spraying it, then it will absorb part of the moisture from the ganache (the usual water migration). This will change with time and is a bit out of control.

 


Curiosity: one of the traditional Italian bonbons are the "cuneesi al rum":
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneese_al_rum
http://www.pasticceriacuneo.it/prodotti/cuneesi-al-rhum/
They are made with a chocolate pastry cream flavoured with rum (lots of rum, which acts as preservative) sandwiched between two discs of meringue (baked at higher temperature than usual, to get maillard reactions and nut like flavor), then coated in dark chocolate. They are really successful with people who love booze.

 

 


Teo

 

 

Teo

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@teonzo:  Upon further reflection (and after eating one of the "marjolaine" bonbons that had sat for a while), I think I will abandon the idea of deliberately allowing the cookie insert to soften.  Instead, I will add the hazelnut gianduja ganache to the shell first, then instead of almond gianduja ganache, make a soft almond gianduja (one that will have a texture not wholly unlike ganache), and insert the cookie into that. In that way I can bake the nut meringue cookies as you describe (crisp outside, softer inside), and, when surrounded by gianduja, they should maintain that texture. Susanna Yoon is firm about a 10-day shelf life for her bonbons, but I don't have the luxury of that with my wholesale customers (and retail ones who eat their box of chocolates slowly). Do you see any issues with my revised plan?

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Seems like the optimal solution in all aspects. You are raising the amount of almonds, not the amount of hazelnuts, which is perfect because hazelnuts are stronger than almonds. No troubles about shelf life, many pastry shops here sell "spumiglie", they are big meringues (4-5 inches) that are half baked, meaning crisp outside and soft inside. They last ages, I made an "experiment" (read "I forgot them in a tin box"), after 5 years they were still fine.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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1 hour ago, teonzo said:

No troubles about shelf life, many pastry shops here sell "spumiglie", they are big meringues (4-5 inches) that are half baked, meaning crisp outside and soft inside. They last ages, I made an "experiment" (read "I forgot them in a tin box"), after 5 years they were still fine.

Teo

 

 

"5 years" may be exceeding the shelf life I require, even for my most frugal customers, who stretch their Christmas boxes until Easter.

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