When making Italian meringues why is the boiling sugar water added slowly

One of the effects of adding boiling sugar water to the beaten egg whites is that the air trapped by the albumen is heated and expands, so that the volume of the meringue foam increases considerably. If the sugar is added very quickly the albumen would almost immediately coagulate. In this condition it is much less elastic and any expansion causes the air cell walls to break and release their contents. Thus the meringue would become heavier rather than lighter.

Adding the sugar solution as a gradual stream while still whipping means the temperature of the mixture is slowly increased. Expansion takes place and the meringue becomes lighter. Then as further hot sugar solution is added, the temperature increases, and by the time it has all been added, it will have become sufficiently high to coagulate the thin films of expanded albumen. Each cell will be filled to capacity with expanded air.

The meringue should stand well without loss of aeration for prolonged periods. This explains why Italian meringue may be used for making buttercreams. After mixing the meringue and the butter there should be little breakdown of the air cells as each is coated with a delicate skin of coagulated albumen.

Cold meringue, on the other hand, readily breaks down in buttercream because the uncooked, and therefore uncoagulated, albumen chains are easily shortened by contact with the butter fat. The cells break open, release their trapped air, and the buttercream loses its lightness and bulk. Marshmallow, a gelatinous form of Italian meringue, is often blended with buttercream. Because of the structure of the marshmallow, the volume is retained when added to the buttercream, just as is the case with Italian meringue.

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