Are all meringue powders equal?
The biggest difference in meringue powders that I have run across is taste. Wilton has a bad reputation for smelling and tasting not so great. Some people use it and have no complaints, but other people are bothered by it. I use CK products meringue powder and have been really happy with it. It tastes good and my icing does everything I need it to.
I agree about the smell of Wilton. I have used it quite a bit and the taste is acceptable but I did notice a substantial improvement when I switched to CK. I prefer the CK but I have to order it and sometimes if I get behind I will still use Wilton. I didn't realize how much meringue powder affects the taste of the RI until I switched.
Can I ask a really stupid question?
Why not use fresh egg whites?
I believe the main reason is food safety. Eggs can have salmonella and the icing would need to be stored properly. Some people do use powdered egg whites, which should alleviate some of those problems. Meringue powder is just easy and most royal icing recipes call for it instead of egg whites.
Hi Tina (and everyone ). As the engineers we are, and after a lot of experimentation, we have reached to the following conclusions: as we all know, royal icing is basically a mixture of egg whites and sugar, and in order to prepare it, we can use the egg whites in one of these forms:
We always use dehydrated egg albumin for our royal icing. There is a massive different in the result and with the right proportion there is no problem with taste or smell.
Hope this was helpful for you and have a great weekend!
Holy moly, that was educational............Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing such a insightful amount of information.
I primarily use raw egg whites, which I feel have a superior taste to any meringue powders out there (or at least the 3 or 4 varieties I've tried). However there are food safety issues (potentially) associated with using them. (NOTE: I do not serve the public.)
I disagree with MEUG wrt the "inferior quality" of royal icing made with raw whites. I'm not sure what she means by that exactly, but I've done side-by-side comparisons of my recipe made with regular whites, pasteurized whites, and various brands of meringue powder and have found barely perceptible handling and drying differences. The primary differences are that those with meringue powder are usually sweeter (as meringue powder often contains additional sugar) and gummier/spongier (due to gums, starches, and other de-clumping agents that are added to them). And those with meringue powder are less prone to separating due to the additives, but this is a non-issue for me because I typically use my icing the day I make it.
But at the end of the day, I find the variations pretty darn interchangeable. What seems to affect the quality of my icing more than anything is whether I quick-dry it (i.e., with a dehydrator).
Also, without knowing the composition of other ingredients in any recipe (in this case, water and sugar in addition to the albumen in the egg whites), it's hard to make side-by-side recipe comparisons. For my tests, I try to control them as much as possible by varying only one ingredient at a time, and using exactly the same quantity (by weight) of any substituted ingredients. But try as I may, even these tests are not perfect, primarily because meringue powder has so many additives and the exact quantities of those additives are not given on product packaging.
There’s been a little misunderstanding here. If you use egg whites, the proportion water/protein is fixed, you can’t vary it, and the only parameter you can play with then is the amount of sugar. If you need a very thick royal icing, for instant to decorate some cookie borders, you have to inevitably add more sugar, and by doing this, the final mix has a lesser proportion of protein, therefore is weaker and succumbs easier to pressure. As you know, dry royal icing is just sugar and protein, because water evaporates. No matter what the icing consistency is (for marbling, or to decorate cookie borders of for making flowers) we always use the same proportion of sugar/albumin. We recorded this silly demonstrative home made video when Estíbaliz found a blob of icing as a result of her two year old daughter’s adventures:
The proportion of water/protein in the egg whites is something that has been driving many generations of pastry chefs crazy. Actually, the ‘ritual’ of using old egg whites to make French macarons is just to try and increase the proportion of protein, making the water evaporate.
Here in Europe we can find pure dehydrated albumin from different manufacturers, without any additive, flavorings or added sugar. Meringue powder is this albumin but with additives.
A big fat kiss,
Miriam and Estíbaliz.
Mensaje en una galleta (MEUG).
No misunderstanding, MEUG! I understand that egg whites have water in them, but as you add water to royal icing to adjust its consistency (which is a must for most techniques, unless you just add raw egg white), you dilute the concentration of albumen in the recipe regardless of whether you use raw egg white, powdered egg white or meringue powder! What matters wrt drying time and stability is the end ratio of water to albumen to sugar.
In any event, I see no material differences in the handling and drying of my royal icing when making these basic substitutions.
I just have to add my two cents being a MP user. I have also used egg whites and loved the tasteand texture. I use MP for ease of use and because I sell.I have been using Americolor MP for a few months now and swear by it. It does not seperate. I even went so far as to leave a covered dish full on the counter for a week and it still did not seperate. I was a happy Wilton user, but it is not as stable as Americolor. I've also tried CK and found it to be gritty. I now know that most MP's are gritty and use lukewarm water to really disolve the MP and it has cut my clogs and lumps down to nill. The other perk being, it's really affordable. $15.00 for 20oz with free shipping on purchases of $25 or more at Amazon. It also takes flavor really well and has a marshmallow smell to it.
Thanks, Ali's Sweet Tooth, for keeping me on track! I digressed!
I, too, love the Americolor MP. When I began using Jaci's method (Ali's Sweet Tooth) of dissolving the MP in lukewarm water before mixing with sugar I stopped having separation issues and I can use colored icing for two days without issue. I previously used Wilton, because as a beginner, I only knew Wilton. I have never tried the CK or any other brand.
Good morning everyone! I've been using CK for about a year and just bought a case of 12 1-lb bags (I got a really good deal, about $8.00/lb) and I really like it but now I want to try Americolor since it doesn't separate. Thanks for the information!
I sure hope I remember this by the time I'm ready to buy more!
Wow- what a deal for the CK MP!! Mind sharing where you got it? Sometimes when I am running low on CK MP (I usually have to order it), I will cut it with Wilton. I have also used Ateco's MP in addition to CK and Wilton. The Ateco is extremely gritty, and it was nearly $20/lb on amazon. Won't make that mistake again...
Whoa...I just checked the price on Amazon for Americolor MP...last I bought it, the price for a 20oz container was $11.90...and now it is $18.95! YIKES! (I'm a hobby baker, so bulk isn't something I'd want or need...but for a 20oz container, that really is a big jump in price!)
I also use raw or dehydrated albumen, but i was wondering which kind of icing sugar you prefer, as it needs to be very thin. Tate & Lyle is probably the best, but difficult to find in Italy...
Debbi I just Googled Americolor MP and found a 20 oz for $10.96 on tcpglobal.com
Gigi's Fresh Baked,
Yes, I found that also...but when you added shipping it was the same price as Amazon. Then, I checked Amazon again and TCP Global was the provider there...they just upped the base price to include their shipping (for my Amazon Prime - no shipping charge supposedly).
Yes, now I see it
I love the smell, taste and quality of Americolor. Really tastes good, and in the past, I hated royal icing so much that I would base coat my cookies with glaze icing, then royal icing over that. OK, so sometimes I still do that, because that still tastes better than even the best royal icing.
One trick for taste... I don't use clear vanilla, as most of it is imitation vanilla. I use good quality bourbon vanilla and then to combat the dark color, I add a good squirt of white food coloring when mixing the batch. It comes out nice and white, and I think it helps to take other colorants as well, since you're starting from a more opaque base.
BTW, has anyone experimented with keeping a vanilla bean or two in your container of powdered sugar?
Does anyone know where to buy CK MP in Europe? I found it on the internet somewhere in London but when i got my package home it was Wilton MP :-( If i buy in US I may not use it to sell in Europe.
Okay - I seem to recall Ateco being the same as... ____
Something - is it the same as Americolor? I really like the Ateco stuff I've been buying, but if the americolor is cheaper and the same stuff, I may as well switch...