The first time I had meringues, I was hooked. I couldn’t have been older than 8. My mom made them for the family coming up to our lake house. I was convinced they wouldn’t be good because they didn’t have butter or flour in them and I wasn’t allowed to eat the batter. I bit into one soon after it came out of the oven and I fell instantly in love. It was chewy, a texture similar to a mixture of marshmallows and taffy. They were fluffy. They were perfectly sweet. They were heaven. For years, I dreamed a those little edible clouds of utopia. I would beg my mom to make them again. But it would be years until I took it upon myself to recreate the blissful experience.
One of my closest friends has Celiac, and is unable to eat many of the delicious baked goods that are in this world. I kept looking for recipes to make her so she would have her own treats. I finally remembered that Meringues are perfect for people with gluten/wheat allergies and dairy allergies. The base of them is primarily egg whites and sugar. I whipped up a batch for one of our many girl’s nights. They were a huge hit. Pretty soon they were the item that I was asked to bring for any dish passing parties (unless Jason was concocting something…).
For a single batch, the amount of meringues depends on how big or small you make them. I like to make them on the smaller side. It’s easier to pop them in your mouth, whole. They can be a bit crumbly after a couple days.
Preheat the oven at 250˚.
Separate two room temperature egg whites. (Put aside the yolk and make some caesar dressing, or crème brûlée. It’s also really good for dog’s coats. It helps for a healthy, coat.) Having the egg whites be at room temperature helps them whip up easier and quicker. With the egg whites in the mixer bowl, add 1/8 tsp Salt, 1/8 tsp cream of tartar, and 1 tsp vanilla. Whip until soft-medium peaks form.
Whipping egg white can be tricky. Be sure that you do not over whip them. Over whipping actually destroys the protein structure and the egg whites collapse. They are unusable at this state. Keep checking for peaks when you whip. Whip it good. (Sorry, I had to.)
To help for a healthy whipped egg white, make sure that your equipment is bone dry! No water droplets! Also, like I said before, make sure your egg whites are room temperature.
Gradually add 1/2 C. sugar (using raw, organic cane sugar gives it a slightly vanilla/caramel taste when they bake. Extra bonus!) . Make sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl to ensure an equal consistency throughout. Whip until firm peaks form (when you dip your spatula straight in and out and an “ocean wave” stays in place).
The shape of your meringues depends on what cake decorating tip you have/ want to use, if any. I have plopped them down onto the sheet and they might not look as pretty, but they tasted great. With the meringues pictured, I used a small star shaped tip. On a parchment paper (sil-pat and brown paper bags work too) lined cookie sheet, I swirled the meringue mixture into mini upside down tornado’s. I used a gallon sized zip-lock bag, a cake decorating tip and piping tip lock. I cut a small hole on one of the ends of the zip-lock, big enough for half of the tip to fit through. Folding the edges of the bag down, load in the mixture, unfold the edges back and zip it shut, allowing the air to escape. When you fold the edges down it reduces mess when you go to close and squeeze.
Traditionally, meringues are dry, and instantly dissolve when they hit your tongue. The key to my meringues, is to undercook them a bit. This makes them slightly chewy. When doing a small-medium meringue, cook them for 30-35 minutes. They are going to be just slightly brown on top. Allow them to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
These cookies are perfect for a get together where you just want to feel completely dignified. If you want to go really civilized, throw some china tea cups in there and you are set. Marie Antoinette would only be so jealous. Now go have a spot of tea and remember… Pinkies up!
Until next time, you dignified person, you.
The Everyday Chef and Wife