A French macaron without whipped egg whites would be a flat, paper-thin cookie with a gooey ganache filling. Swiss meringue frosting without the meringue would just be a regular, overly sweet buttercream. And a lemon meringue pie without the meringue would just be, well, lemon pie. Good, but not great.
Whipped egg whites are the secret to cloudlike meringues, beautiful baked goods, and sweet and savory soufflés. Soft peaks keep things light and airy, while stiff peaks bring body to meringue or frosting. But it’s easy to overwhip egg whites, resulting in a too-stiff, curd-like mess that no one wants. So what’s the trick to whipped eggs that are just right for your recipe? Ahead, we break down how much to whip the eggs based on the stiffness of the desired peaks…and a few tricks to ensure that they hold their shape.