Low-Sugar Meringue Cookies with The Right Texture?


I'm trying to make meringue cookies that have very low sugar, but the texture does not come out right without the sugar.

I do not wish to substitute the sugar with Splenda or anything else; I simply want cookies that are significantly less sweet.

Any ideas on how to achieve the traditional texture (almost "chalky"), while using very little sugar? Perhaps I can use other "sugars" such as rice flour?

badge posted by: 1235fasd on January 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm in Baking, desserts and sweets
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reply by: Mike Nolan on January 16, 2012 at 12:27 am
Mike Nolan

Check out recipes for macarons, they use things like almond flour and less sugar, but they might not be 'low sugar' enough.

Here's King Arthur's recipe for macarons:


You could try using more almond flour and less sugar.

reply by: hickeyja on January 16, 2012 at 12:29 am

This Italian Meringue cookie uses only 1/4c. of sugar w/3 egg whites. http://www.italian-dessert-recipes.com/meringue_cookie_recipe.html I don't think you can reduce it any further and still get the texture you want. Jan

reply by: --jej on January 16, 2012 at 6:45 am

Oh, my heavens, Jan!!! This Italian recipe site looks great, starting with these little cookies, and then the little meringues, and going from there. Not that I need even one more recipe, of course. LOL But thank you!

reply by: cwcdesign on January 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

So, Jan, I went to the Italian dessert site and found a link to this one http://gimmesomeoven.com/. Check it out - there are some amazing recipes for salads and desserts - a Snickers cheesecake and a Twix trifle. The pictures are great, too. I'm bookmarking it!

reply by: 1235fasd on January 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thanks, Jan

reply by: 1235fasd on January 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thanks, I'll try almond flour.

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Mike Nolan

An interesting question is whether you could make meringue without using ANY sugar, just something like almond flour. (Chestnut flour might be better, I'm told it is sweeter.)

reply by: --jej on January 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Soon as you get this 'interesting question' answered, Mike, please share your new recipe with us. We will all appreciate it very much!! LOL

reply by: hickeyja on January 17, 2012 at 12:10 am

I've never used chestnut flour, but I have coconut flour. I wonder if that would work. It might be interesting to try. I will have to get some coconut extract or maybe pineapple flavor, so I can make pina colada meringues. Jan

reply by: hickeyja on January 17, 2012 at 12:13 am

Jej, It is a wicked site, isn't it?! I try to avoid it, but sometimes I find myself creeping over there to snag another recipe for something I shouldn't eat. Jan

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 17, 2012 at 1:11 am
Mike Nolan

I've got some egg whites I need to use up soon, I may try that. I like the idea of adding some flavoring to replace the sugar so that the taste isn't totally bland.

I've still got a few days to finish up a project for a client (I've been working 12-16 hour days since mid December on it), but after it is done I plan to take a few days off from computer work and do some serious kitchen tinkering.

For example, I want to do some experimenting with smaller souffles (savory and dessert) in some new baking dishes I got for Christmas. Also, there's a cooking competition show that has on more than one occasion given contestants ONE egg to make something with, I've been wondering if I could scale a souffle recipe down to just one egg or if that would be too small to whip up properly, even by hand.

I do have a small package of chestnut flour that I got in Pennsylvania a while back, but I forgot what recipe I was going to use it in. I have some coconut flour, too.

reply by: --jej on January 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hey, Mike, I've got a really small stainless steel bowl that my hand mixer will just fit in... Bet you could whip up your souffle in that one!! Worth a try.

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm
Mike Nolan

The instructions for my stick blender says it can whip egg whites, I haven't tried that yet because most of the time when I whip up egg whites I'm doing a half dozen or more of them and the KA mixer works very well for that.

As a kid I remember making whipped cream with an egg beater. I also remember it being very tiring.

reply by: BakerIrene on January 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

You can cut the sugar in a meringue recipe in half for sure. Nobody that eats my meringues can tell the difference. But my recipe has a few tablespoons cornstarch as well as the nut flour.

You probably can get away with 1/3 the sugar that a regular meringue recipe calls for. I would make this kind of meringue by warming the sugar and egg whites to 140F over a water bath (Swiss style) before whipping.

But when you say "very little" what are you trying? 10%? 20%?
That won't work because the sugar acts to make the whipped mass "sticky" enough to hold the nuts while baking.

reply by: 1235fasd on January 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi BakerIrene,

Yes, I'm looking for very low sugar cookies, something like 15g of sugar for 3 egg whites (otherwise, it's way too sweet for me). Using just a half of the "recommended" amount of sugar, or even a third of it, was still very sweet for me...

A few days ago, I tried replacing some of the sugar with rice flour, but the texture was not good and the flavor was affected...

What is it about white sugar that makes the chalky texture of meringue cookies? Do you know the chemistry behind this reaction, so that I can try to substitute the sugar for another substance that causes a similar effect? I thought the rice flour would do the trick, as it is a non-sweet carb, but that definitely did not work... Do you have any ideas? I'm almost ready to give up, unfortunately... (by the way, I'm not looking to add any nuts, but I AM looking for the traditional "chalky" texture)


reply by: BakerIrene on January 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The traditional meringue proportion makes a saturated solution of sugar in the water part of the egg white. This is mixed in with the albumen protein, forming the skin around all those air bubbles beaten in. The protein sets in a particular way during baking. The walls of the air cells then crumble easily--that's the chalky feel.

So there really isn't any direct substitute that I know of.

The best you can hope for is to try to use xanthan gum (sold for gluten free baking) mixed dry with the sugar and well beaten. That way you are absorbing the water with a non-sugar material, and the rest of the water and sugar can do the saturated solution thing.

I would go with 15 grams xanthan and 15 grams sugar for your 3 egg whites. If this comes close, then I would also add 15 grams cornstarch which will set up during cooking.

You might also try adding some dry egg white powder, to soak up some of the water and retain the strength of the bubble fluid. Maybe using 4 egg whites and the powder for 2 more whites?

And if this doesn't work, then you need to get your hands on some edible carboxymethylcellulose to use as I suggest the xanthan gum...

reply by: 1235fasd on January 26, 2012 at 1:38 am

Hi Irene,
Thanks so much for the detailed and educational reply. I'll try what you suggested, and hopefully - will be able to create the low-sugar meringue cookie that's I'm dreaming of.... :-) Thanks!