I've come across occasionally mentions of savoury meringues with flavours such as beetroot. How are these made? What is used as a substitute for the sugar?
I don't believe that sugar is required to make meringues come out properly. I don't see any reason that you couldn't go without it altogether.
The eggs whites in traditional meringues are used to spread the sugar into a thin foam that is then dried in the oven (or dehydrator) leaving behind the sugar structure and some proteins from the eggs. To make a meringue you need something that dissolves to tangle up with those proteins. I would guess that the beet meringues from Café Atlantico are made with beet powder replacing the sugar with the goat cheese in the middle adding to the sense of savory.
I have never made savory meringues, but if I were to experiment I would mix freshly whipped eggs whites with sugar to those created by reducing a savory liquid and then adding powder egg whites to it.
Well, you could always take a bite out of Adria's apple and just make foams directly from whatever liquid you wish to use (which may or may not be egg white; I'd advise against it. Why dilute your flavour?). Then add methylcellulose to provide you with the matrix you need for stability, and a standard ISI whipped cream dispenser will foam your product.
So for example, you could make a beetroot juice (250g) boiled with 50g sugar and 50g water, then cooled. Add methylcellulose 8g (2.2% by weight, using Methocel F50). Blend well. The recipe I have (for a carrot foam) calls for it to then be whipped in a stand mixer to stiff peaks, spread on a sheet and dehydrated for 5 hours. I imagine you could extrude from a standard ISI instead, probably charged twice with NO2.
Oh, as an added bonus, this would allow you to make completely vegan 'meringue' as well. Use a different liquid, add a touch of vanilla.
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