A topping created with egg whites and sugar, beaten until they are stiff enough to form peaks and baked on pies and cookies . After baking, a successful meringue becomes crisp and lightly browned on the outside while it remains light and fluffy on the inside.
Meringue pies commonly develop a condition referred to as weeping, which takes place as water enters between the pie filling and the meringue, resulting in water collecting in the bottom of the pie pan. There are several reasons why this may occur:
1) The meringue may have been made improperly. Egg whites must be beaten until they are stiff enough to form peaks, then the sugar should be beaten a little at a time, using two tablespoons per large egg white. Be sure sugar dissolves completely at the end of each beating so that the granules cannot be noticed or felt when tasting. Undissolved sugar will cause weeping so it is best to use superfine sugar. 2) Be sure the pie filling is warm to hot when the meringue is spread on top and not cool enough to cause water to form as condensation. If the filling is sufficiently hot when it is poured into the pie shell, it will assist with cooking the meringue from the bottom as it is spread onto the filling.
3) The meringue must not be over baked. For meringue 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick, bake at 425° F for 6 minutes, or at 400° F for 8 minutes, or at 350° F for 18 minutes.
4) The pie may have been kept too long, allowing the egg whites to begin to denature or break down. Refrigerating the pie will often increase the chance of weeping.
Other solutions that may assist include:
5) Add cornstarch into the egg whites to stabilize the meringue and egg proteins so the don't overcook. For each egg in the recipe, mix together 1/4 tablespoon cornstarch and 4 teaspoons of water and heat, stirring gently while heating until mixture thickens. As the sugar is beaten into the meringue and begins to shape peaks, add the cornstarch and water mixture a tablespoon at a time until it is all used.
6) Make sure the edge of the pie is sealed well to eliminate excess moisture from entering. Following these guidelines should prevent meringue from weeping.
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