To froth or not to froth?

I let people in my rotation make requests about baked goods. Mike requested Meringue cookies and German Chocolate Cake. Haven’t gotten to the german chocolate cake yet, but it’s on my never-ending “to bake” list. Anyways, that’s not the point. The point is Meringue. Oh Meringue. Delicious. Not completely calorie-laden. And oh so tricky =(

The thing about meringue is the beating. You need to whip it good. Whip it long and hard. Okay I’ll stop there.

But seriously. This is what happened with take one, when I thought my handy, trusty kitchenaid mixer would do the trick. I think the bowl was too big and the mixer too high up to truly reach the eggs unfortunately. And so I waited for frothing:

And waited…

yeah no =(

So it didn’t work. And I was sad and slightly disheartened. But resolved to making these cookies nonetheless! So I started with a fresh pair of egg whites, a different bowl, and my handmixer instead. Ahhhh…so THIS is what it’s supposed to froth like!

Meringue is somewhat like a tiny miracle. Two little eggwhites, some cream of tartar, some salt, and some icing sugar. And BAM! ALL THAT MERINGUE! I used a large star tip to make pretty patterns (because meringue ghosts like on 101cookbooks is not exactly in season right now). Since they weren’t as high up as the ghosts, I got about 25-26 cookies. So remember when you’re beating to just keep on going, b/c you’ll need to have nice stiff meringue that makes a lot of cookies. I dipped the bottoms in dark chocolate and white orange chocolate.

Meringue Cookies (Adapted from 101cookbooks.com)

It is important to let your egg whites come to room temperature, this will help you get the most volume. Also, make sure all your bowls, whisk, etc are spotlessly clean and free of any grease.

2 egg whites, room temperature
tiny pinch of salt
tiny pinch of cream of tartar
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 dark chocolate bar, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 200F, racks in the middle.

Get everything ready ahead of time. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat mat. Set up your pastry bag in a tall empty glass to make it easier to fill. Have a spatula on hand.

Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in a large, clean mixing bowl. Start whisking the egg whites at medium speed in a large bowl with an electric mixer. This stage is all about watching and letting the egg whites tell you what to do next and you have to be nice to them to get them to transform – so avoid turning your mixer on and off. When the whites are frothy and have a bit of volume to them, start sprinkling in the sugar a bit at a time over a minute or two – leaving the mixer on the entire time.

Keep mixing (it took about 15-20 minutes). The whites will become glossy and their appearance will resemble marshmallow cream, keep going. At this point you need much more volume out of the whites, try to imagine making a dozens of cookies out of the mixture. Whisk, whisk, whisk. You will start to see the volume really start to increase, the whisk will be leaving more definitive trail in the meringue. At this point I usually gradually slow down the whisk, and see if I can lift it out of the meringue leaving a stiff structured peak. Imagine, you are going to pipe this out onto the cookie sheets, so you need it to have lots of structure, if you don’t go far enough your shapes will just collapse into a puddle.

Working gently (but quickly) fill the pastry bay -or alternately, a large plastic freezer bag with the corner snipped off – using the spatula. Try to avoid lots of air pockets in the pastry bag, they make piping much more difficult. Close the bag by rolling the top down a few times. Now pipe onto the prepared baking sheets.

Place the meringue in the oven for an hour. After an hour, open the oven door an inch or two and cook for another 30 minutes. I usually touch one of them at this point, they shouldn’t be gummy or wobbly. If they are still too moist, leave them in the oven until they aren’t. Turn off the oven, and leave the meringues in there until it comes down to room temperature.
Dip in your favorite chocolate!

If you are storing them, do so in an air-tight container.

Mm mm good!

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