There are many ways to separate egg yolks and egg whites. You can shift the yolk back and forth between two halves of an egg shell, letting the white fall into a bowl. You can crack the egg into your hand and let the white fall between your fingers into a bowl. Or you can crack all your eggs into a bowl and try to pick out the yolks gently with your hands. None of these methods are foolproof, but when you separate a lot of eggs, you start to get pretty good with the technique of your choice. One alternative to all this manual separating is to pick up a nifty little gadget that can streamline the process and Pluck is just such a tool.
Pluck is an egg yolk separator that is surprisingly low tech, yet effective. It looks a bit like an egg with a small tube attached to one end and it is made of silicone. To use it, simply break your whole egg into a bowl, squeeze the silicone egg and place the tube over the egg yolk. Your egg yolk will be sucked right up into the silicone egg – and it can be squeezed out just as easily into another container. The gadget separates into two pieces for easy cleaning when you’re done with your egg work, and the flexible silicone is very easy to clean, too.
Meringue-topped pies and angel food cakes need a lot of egg whites. It can be tempting to reach for a carton of prepackaged egg whites in the grocery store when you know you are going to need a lot, rather than separating a dozen or more whole eggs yourself. These processed products might do in a pinch when you’re looking for a way to cut calories from your breakfast scramble, but do they work in other egg white applications? Cook’s Country picked up for widely available varieties of processed egg whites to put them to the test in a recent issue (Feb/March 2013) to see how they held up to the real thing.
Their test included three brands of liquid egg whites and one brand of powdered egg whites. They were tested in omelettes, baked goods and meringue cookies, then compared to versions made with freshly separated egg whites. The test kitchen found that all of the products were acceptable in omelettes, but none worked as well in egg white-heavy baking applications. This is largely because of the pasteurization process that the liquid egg whites have gone through, which toughens the egg proteins so that they don’t stretch as easily when whipped, so they need a lot more time to get the same volume as fresh egg whites.
The top-ranking product in the test was Eggology 100% Egg Whites, which turned out a great omlette and an acceptable angel food cake. The meringues made with them were still acceptable, but overly crunchy when compared to fresh egg white versions.
The rest of the tested products ended up being “recommended with reservations.” Organic Valley Pasteurized Egg Whites tasted good in omelettes, but took an astounding 22 minutes to beat to soft peaks (fresh egg whites took just 6 minutes). Deb El 100% Dried Egg Whites were grainy in omelettes and meringue, but whipped up quickly and were easy to work with.
Egg Beaters All Natural 100% Egg Whites finished at the very bottom of the pack when it came to baking. Although they made a very good omelette, the twice-pasteurized egg whites did not whip properly or rise in the oven when baked.
There are many recipes out there that call for separating your eggs and when they do, there is a good chance that you are going to have leftover egg yolks or leftover egg whites as a Fortunately, both leftover egg whites and leftover egg yolks can be stored until you need them. But that still leaves you with the question of how to you use up leftover egg whites once you have them on hand? The easiest thing to do with a leftover egg white or two is to mix it into some more eggs the next time you’re making a scramble or an omelette, but here are 5 great recipes that put them to an even better use.
- A batch of Coconut Macaroons is a simple way to use up one or two egg whites. These chewy cookies are easy to make and even easier to eat. The recipe can be scaled up or down easily depending on how many egg whites you have available and how much shredded coconut you have on hand.
- A Fresh Strawberry Souffle uses up four egg whites, and needs no yolks. This light and satisfying souffle can be made with a variety of fruit, but strawberries are perfect in the summertime when they’re in season. Several other souffles can be made using only egg whites, as well, including Maple Souffles and Chocolate Banana Souffles.
- Classic White Cake has a soft, white crumb because it uses only egg whites and no egg yolks in the cake batter. A full sized layer cake will take about six egg whites, but a half batch of the recipe will make a dozen delicious white cupcakes.
- Real Vanilla Bean Buttercream, made with an Italian meringue base, is a must-try for cake and cupcake lovers. This frosting uses five egg whites in an Italian meringue, which forms the base of the ultra-buttery frosting. You may never go back to American-style buttercream again.
- If you are dealing with a whole lot of leftover egg whites, use them up in a batch of angel food cake. A batch of Angel Food Cupcakes bakes a dozen delicious light cupcakes with only five egg whites. If you can make it to 10-12 egg whites, you’ll have enough for a full sized Angel Food Cake.
I have always been a big angel food cake fan. I love the high rise and soft texture of the light and fluffy cake, as well as how versatile the finished cake can be. It needs no frosting, although you can always add a simple glaze or dessert sauce, and it goes well with all kinds of fruits and ice creams. Angel food cakes are actually fat free, too, so I especially like them as light snacks or when served after a heavy meal.
My favorite angel food cake is plain vanilla, and I have been using the same Perfect Angel Food Cake recipe as my standard for some time now. As with so many other desserts, however, I like to have variations ready to go when I’m looking for something different. This is a Chocolate Angel Food Cake.
This cake is made the exact same way as a traditional angel food cake, namely with lots of beaten egg whites, but it has cocoa powder included along with the cake flour. The cocoa adds a not-too-rich chocolate flavor to the finished product and is a nice change from plain vanilla. The cake is sweet, even more moist than regular angel food cake, and keeps well for several days. You will need a tube pan for the best results, as well as a little bit of whipped cream and maybe some fresh berries – or at least a big cup of coffee – when you go to serve it!
Meringue powder is an ingredient that you won’t see called for in recipes very often, but you will see if you browse the aisles of a baking supply store or a craft store with a cake decorating section. It also shows up on the ingredient lists of some packaged frostings and icing mixes. Meringue powder is a fine white powder made primarily from dried egg whites, with cornstarch to keep it from clumping while stored and some food gums to help it bind together easily when it is being used. The powder can be reconstituted with water and forms up into a nice, fluffy meringue when beaten at a high speed.
It is primarily used to make royal icing, as it adds a lot of stability to the frosting and a nice texture. The reason that it is used in royal icing is that many older recipes for the stiff icing called for raw egg whites and the meringue powder is a good substitution for them. Meringue powder can also be used as a substitute for egg whites in angel food cake (and often is, in some larger bakeries that offer… discount prices on their cakes). It works in that recipe because angel food cake really is just a meringue with a little bit of flour and flavoring added to it. Even though it works in these two recipes, meringue powder cannot be used as a substitute for egg whites in any recipe where egg whites are called for. It’s really just a substitution for egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks and will perform best in recipes that specifically look for that – like angel food cake and even some mousses. That being said, real eggs are always going to give you a better flavor in the finished product. Angel food cakes will be more moist and natural tasting when made with real egg whites (even though they’re actually not made when made with meringue powder), and if you choose to use the meringue powder in a mousse, it may have a starchy aftertaste from the cornstarch in the meringue powder.
It is a useful ingredient – especially if you do a lot of cake decorating – but I would only use it in a pinch with a regular egg white based recipe and save the bulk of its use for frostings.