This shelf-stable ingredient is the secret to perfect royal icings.
As holiday cookie decorating season approaches, you might find yourself sifting through ingredient lists and discover one that calls for meringue powder. If you’ve never worked with this specialty baking item, you could be confused. For starters, where do you buy it? (It’s not at most standard grocery stores.) Anat what does it do?
Meringue powder is a shelf-stable dehydrated egg white product used to make meringues (as you may have guessed), but also commonly used in royal icing, too. We’ll break down where to buy it, how to use it, and why you should have some meringue powder on hand this holiday season.
What Is in Meringue Powder?
Aside from dried egg whites, it typically contains sugar, cornstarch, and other ingredients like flavorings, gums, and preservatives.
What Does Meringue Powder Do?
Meringue powder is designed as a substitute for fresh egg whites beaten to stiff peaks in recipes. It’s also used as a stabilizer for icings and other desserts. For example, it can help keep whipped cream from deflating.
Meringue powder can be a great substitution option in many recipes where fresh egg whites are used but not cooked, as to avoid consuming them raw. (Or if you simply don't want to separate eggs or have a lot of extra yolks.)
The most common baking application of meringue powder is in royal icing, where it's used to create a shiny, pipable glaze for all sorts of cookie designs. For guidance on how to turn meringue powder into royal icing check out our basic Easy Royal Icing for Cookies.
What It’s Not: A substitute for eggs in batters, cookie doughs, and more; in those cases you want to use fresh eggs.
How To Substitute Meringue Powder For Egg Whites
To use meringue powder, you reconstitute it with water, but the amount of water varies by brand and also recipe to recipe. Each brand will come with its own instructions for how much of their product must be used to approximate a single egg white in an applicable recipe.
For example, Wilton's meringue powder instructs bakers to use 2 teaspoons of powder plus 2 tablespoons of water for 1 egg white.
Where To Buy Meringue Powder
Most specialty baking stores carry meringue powder, as well as large craft retailers with baking and cake decorating supplies sections. You may also order the product online.
How To Store Meringue Powder
Despite it being an egg product, meringue powder is shelf-stable and can be stored in the pantry. It should last for years if stored properly, but you should also consult the best-by dates on the package.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cream of tartar the same as meringue powder?
No, cream of tartar is often used as stabilizer in meringues to prevent it from collapsing, it's not a substitute for meringue powder.
What is the difference between powdered egg whites and meringue powder?
Powdered egg whites don't contain the sugar, cornstarch, and other additives that meringue powders do. That's because meringue powder is designed as a substitute to replace the ingredients in a meringue, not just the whites.
Does meringue powder expire?
Yes, but nowhere near as fast as fresh egg whites. It should last for around two years, but always check the best-by dates on the package.
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