Q: My meringue cookies did not dry out and become crunchy, what went wrong... any tips?
hard to know, but there are a lot of factors that can affect meringue. Humidity is a big one - if it is humid where you are, it may take a lot longer. Also, could be over temperature. Have you checked yours?
I agree with jwolf. The weather can really affect meringues. Summer weather, unless you are under a nice high pressure front, can make them chewy, stick-to-your-teeth, even gloppy! For that reason, I usually favor cooler or drier weather for making meringues.
Humidity of any kind sure can make them sticky. How long did you dry them and at what temp?
Preheated at 300 f. put in oven, turned off & let set overnight. Starting at 9:00pm.
In addition to humidity, were the whites beaten to stiff peaks? I like to add a pinch of salt to the egg whites--it helps them hold their shape so they come out crunchy. Also, how does your oven run? If it runs cool, the meringues just may not have dried out completely.
The thing with meringue is that it must cook slowly,in low heat - and it helps if you leave the oven door a bit opened.If yours shuts by itself put a wooden spoon to leave a gap.And drbabs has a point:stiff peaks are important.Also,the sugar has to be superfine or made into a syrup,and then poured slowly.
We don't even attempt to make meringues if it is humid outside. They just become soggy and chewy. And as everyone has said above, be sure that the whites are beaten to stiff peaks.
All of the above received wisdom adds up to the fact that making or storing meringues in a humid climate is a challenge. To give yourself an advantage, add a generous pinch of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) to the whites as you're beating them and before you add a drop of sugar. Cream of tartar encourages the ovalbumen (the principal protein in EWs) to unfold and more readily accept the sugar that you'll add by the tablespoon. The best way to dry meringues is in an oven on the pilot light overnight. Persevere!
I did all of the above.
Pamela, did you post on this question because you're having a problem with meringues? I've had to do more troubleshooting because the oven where I live now does not hold temperature well. I keep a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven. What I did for this year's meringues was I heated the oven to 350 before I even started the batter. Then I put the cookies in at that temperature for ten minutes. After 10 minutes, I turned the oven down to 200, and left the cookies in at 200 for two hours. They came out light and crunchy-- the way we like them. You may have to experiment with the time a bit because every oven is different. I hope this works for you.
Are you say that I could have lower my temp to say 200ºf or warm for all night with the door open?
This is my 4th attempt. I did the pinch of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt and I drew my batter in a circle, (I tried topping the small ones off and that made the peaks) and I popped them in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes and then reduced to 200 and had the door open a bit for two hours. Now the cookies are very light and crunchy. I'm not sure if this is the desired result as I've made them 4 times and I can tell they are getting better and so is my batter piping technique, but my hand mixing of the meringue and the extra-sifted dry ingredients still doesn't get the batter silky smooth enough. How does that work?