Whipped till they reach their peaks

Cooking 101

September 27, 2006|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun reporter

Whipping egg whites or heavy cream is a basic step in many recipes, but it's also one that can go wrong fast. Whip cream a few seconds too long and it breaks into unappetizing clumps. If sugar is added too quickly to egg whites to make a meringue, the mixture will collapse.

In both cases, it helps to start with the right vessel: a very clean stainless-steel bowl, says Jan Bandula, chef instructor at Baltimore International College. Whether you're beating egg whites or cream, the most important tip is to watch carefully as you mix. (Don't use a stand mixer as license to walk away.)

When egg whites get glossy or cream develops marked folds, it's a signal to turn off the mixer and see if your mixture clings to a spatula held above the bowl. If it does, it's ready.

If you do end up overwhipping your cream, all is not lost, Bandula says. Make butter. Continue whipping the cream until it is very clumpy and slightly yellow, and water has separated from solid material. Pull out clumps and place in a bowl of icy water. Pick up pieces in your hand and work, occasionally using the icy water to moisten, into butter; chill.

kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

TIPS

Start with a very clean stainless-steel bowl.

Bring egg whites to room temperature first.

When checking whether a mixture is done, work quickly; beaten egg whites can deflate if left to sit too long.

Shake cream well before opening and pouring into the bowl.

Whip according to recipe directions. "Soft peaks" means the mixture will form a peak that quickly wilts; "stiff peaks" retain their shape.

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