I have a new toy coming and I am so excited! I've finally (wo)manned-up and invested in one of those gorgeous copper bowls. Mr. Humble is tolerating the extravagance fairly well, though I fear he will use this purchase to justify his own craving for new speaker stands. Men and their silly toys...
Anyway, for a while now I've resisted the siren's call of the gleaming bowl. I've always justified my reluctance with the idea that copper was high maintenance, had limited uses or was too expensive.
However, since reading about the advantages of copper, coupled with my obsessive quest for the perfect macaron, my resolve was as strong as over-beaten egg whites. (Unforgivably terrible egg joke, I know.)
I decided I needed to test the beneficial properties of copper as part of my Macaron 101: French merigue. After all, in the quest for perfect macarons, I'll do just about anything.
When it comes to egg whites, the bowl you beat them in does make a difference. Allow me to demonstrate the relative 'awesomeness' of bowls when it comes to whipping eggs into a light fluffy meringue:
Want a light fluffy meringue? Then you will want to reach for copper or stainless before plastic or aluminum. Mud is an all around bad choice, unless you're lost in the wilderness and you absolutely need to make some meringues so the woodland creatures don't turn on you.
So why is copper so great? Chemistry!
Unlike all those other bowls, a copper bowl reacts on a molecular level with the egg whites to help form those perfectly divine fluffy whites.
Egg whites are made up primarily of proteins and water, copper contains an ion that migrates from the bowl and reacts with a protein in egg whites, strengthening them. With the addition of the copper ion, the egg white proteins create a more stable foam that is harder to over beat and less likely to unfold.
Whipping egg whites is often likened to blowing up a balloon. For a voluminous meringue you need to beat in the amount of air the proteins can handle. Beat too much air into the whites, the balloon will pop and you need to start over again. Of course, if you're beating tough copper infused whites, you are starting out with a much stronger balloon.
I want tenacious meringues. So there was no question of what I needed to do...
I cracked open my wallet and went shopping.
I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my shiny new Mauviel bowl. Will it stand up to some rigorous testing for the next Macaron 101?
We shall see...