Often bakers and ice cream-lovers will find themselves with a few too many egg whites leftover. So what to do with all of them? It seems I, too, always have a few in a container in the refrigerator. Liquid egg whites can be frozen just as they are. I usually do it in a specific quantity, and label it as such, since there’s nothing more infuriating than needing 1 cup of egg whites and trying to chip that away from a frozen-solid block in the freezer. Some folks devote an ice cube tray to egg whites, slipping one in each indentation so they know exactly how many they have. Just so you know, one large egg white is about 2 tablespoons and weighs 25 grams. I often freeze the whites in plastic containers, then slip them out of the containers, once frozen, then wrap them in plastic and secure them in zip-top freezer bags – with the quantity and date written on the outside.
Here are some favorite recipes of mine, and some from others, that are great ways to use up leftover egg whites:
Or…you can make an ice cream ‘volcano’….like I did!
To Start Your Own Volcano: Line a deep bowl with plastic wrap, then fill with layers of ice cream or sorbet. You can either use homemade or store-bought. Either way, the ice cream should be slightly-softened so it’s spreadable.
It’s best to create layers that are roughly equivalent in size. Add one layer, smooth the top and let it freeze for about an hour. Then add the next and let that freeze as well. You can add as many layers as you want, but three’s my limit and I fancy alternating ice cream and sherbet or sorbet layers.
Once you’re done with all the layers, trim and line the bottom (the exposed end) with a layer of spongecake, saturating both sides with sugar syrup. Use a favorite spongecake recipe, but the piece should be about 1-inch (3 cm) thick. Make a small amount of sugar syrup by boiling about 1/4 cup (60 ml) water with 2 tablespoons sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely, then add a good pour of your favorite liquor. The syrup’s necessary to keep the cake from freezing too firm, but the alcohol can be omitted if you want.
Now freeze the entire cake really well (which is especially true if, like me, you have to drive 2 hours en route to the party you’re going to and you get stuck in a traffic jam at le péage, the toll plaza, because some knucklehead in front of you didn’t have money or something and traffic’s backed up to lord-knows-where. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. Me was freakin’.)
To Meringue the Volcano: Add some room temperature egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer. The amount of egg whites it will take depends on the size of your cake so it’s hard to say, but leftover whipped and sweetened meringue can be baked as cookies. (You can read detailed meringue instructions here.)
Beat slowly, then increase the speed, adding a pinch of salt, until the egg whites start to hold their shape. Gradually add an equal quantity of sugar while whipping at high speed until thick, glossy and firm. You can add a few drops of vanilla extract if you’d like.
Remove the cake from the freezer and unmold it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to remove the plastic wrap, but I’m going to tell you anyways. Spread the meringue all over the top and sides. Bury a half an egg shell in the top, open side facing outwards and smooth the meringue up and around it.
At this point, you can refreeze the cake until ready to brulée—or torch that sucker right away.
To Serve: Brown the volcano in an oven that’s been pre-heated to a very high temperature, around 500F (260 C). It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to ‘cook’. I like to finish it with a blowtorch since it looks more dramatic with slightly-burnt edges.
Fill the egg shell with liquor that’s at least 40% alcohol. Turn off the lights, ignite the liquor*, and let that Krakatoa glow!
Cut the cake with a narrow, long knife dipped in very hot water.
*Of course, always take precautions when lighting anything: Make sure nothing is flammable nearby including your sleeves. Avert your face when lighting the flame and keep kids away.