Vanilla Meringues

A number of years ago we hit a rough patch and were in a depleted financial position.  The holidays were coming and I needed gifts for family and friends but did not have the normal funds to go shopping.  That year I made hundreds if not thousands of meringues,  bagged them with a little tag that said they were Snowman Kisses and gave them to all our friends and families we normally exchanged gifts with.  Needless to say, they were a HUGE hit with my nieces and nephews and many of our friends.  Since then, I try to make them at the holidays especially for my family; they really do love my meringues.

I realize too late that I created a monster.  Now, if I show up for Christmas without meringues, I get all kinds of crap from those kids.  They can be rather menacing.  I mean it’s Christmas and everything – the season of brotherly love – and they’re getting demanding.  Now that they are all older, the youngest is in his last year of high school, I start getting text messages about a month before reminding me that it is meringue season and wouldn’t it be nice to get a nice big bag of meringues for the holidays? Etc. etc. etc. I have to admit, these lighter than air cookies are so amazingly addictive.

Originally I made vanilla meringues but one year I switched it up and made peppermint meringues, well that was it.  From now on its peppermint meringues or they give me crap about that. Seriously?  It’s a gift!  Beggars are not supposed to be choosy.  Oh well, gotta love the little beggars……they are my family.  Look for peppermint meringue recipe next week.

 

OK so a few notes about making meringues before you even start:

NOTE:  Egg whites must be at room temperature to get the highest loft from the beaten egg whites. Take my word for it, they never turn out well if the eggs are cold.

NOTE #2:  DO NOT attempt to make meringues when it is raining or very humid.  Meringues are best made in the winter when it is cold and dry but can be made when the weather is warmer just be sure to choose a dry day to bake them. Then store in airtight containers to keep them the freshest possible.  Not to worry though, in my family once anyone knows I made meringues they are gone! Honestly, they disappear within a day or two.

NOTE #3:  What to do with all those egg yolks?  I have a cookie recipe that uses 12 egg yolks or a custard recipe that uses 8 egg yolks and 4 whole eggs.  I’ll share those recipes another time.

 

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Vanilla Meringues

  • 4 eggs whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, use clear extract if you have it for a whiter meringue

Preheat oven to 225F

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

 

  1. Put egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer adding salt and cream of tartar. Beat at low speed until frothy.  Most recipes call for adding the salt and cream of tartar much later but I found adding it at the beginning helps break down the egg whites and gives a more stable meringue. 
  2. Increase speed of mixer to medium and slowly add sugar; pouring it in a very slow stream until all sugar is incorporated. 
  3. Increase speed to high and continue beating until stiff peaks form. This means you can turn the beater upside down and the tip of the meringue will stay rigid.
  4. Add vanilla and continue beating to incorporate.20170915_144205.jpg
  5. Transfer beaten meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a tip, or a zippy bag (with a tip or without). I usually use a zippy bag without a tip.  I like the look of a smooth meringue so there is no need for a tip when just making small meringues; just clip the corner of the bag but, be careful to clip only a small amount off and try it out for size especially if you want small meringues.  Remember; you can always make the cut bigger but you cannot make it smaller.  If you want a crenulated top, fit bag with a tip.20170915_144240
  6. Pipe small, about 1 ½ inch meringue cookies onto prepared parchment lined baking sheets. You can space them about 1 inch apart as they do not spread during baking.
  7. Place filled baking sheets in 225F oven for 60 to 90 minutes depending on the size of your meringues. You may want to rotate trays when baking for a more even bake.20170915_144617
  8. To test cookies you will have to sacrifice one. Cool the meringue about 3 – 4 minutes then break it in half, if still wet in the center leave in oven for an additional 10 minutes and test again.  Baking time is totally dependent on the size of your meringues.
  9. Yeild: about 60-70 meringue cookies, about 25 – 30 mini Pavlova – a tiny tart shell made from meringue and filled just before serving.
  10. Meringues keep for several weeks in an airtight container as long as it is not humid.

NOTE:  We used this recipe at the tearoom to make individual Pavlovas filled with lemon curd and berries.  Visually apealing, delicious and gluten free!

 

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