People are frightened of meringues. Not of eating them of course, but of making them. In some ways I can see why, they are a little tricky and require more time than your average cookie but they are worth following some simple baking rules. The payoff is extraordinary. I once brought a big container of meringues to an event and a friend took one bite of them and stole the container from everyone else and would not allow them to have any! So be wary when you give these as present, make sure everyone gets some right away to avoid any food fights.
These are Laura Calder’s Crispy Chewy Meringues and they are heavenly! I add a little surprise inside for that holiday touch.
This recipe calls for 4 egg whites whipped with a little salt into peaks with some vanilla and a bit of peppermint extract. Add 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar and super slowly add in 2/3 cup of granulated sugar. Keep whisking until the meringue is stiff and sugar has dissolved.
Meringue Rule #1: Egg whites must be at room temperature! To achieve this faster than physics normally will allow by leaving them on the counter, get a bowl and fill it with warm water and soak the eggs in it. This takes the chill out of them but they are harder to separate when warm so be careful when separating. There must be no yolk in the egg white. I have had my yolk break and contaminate the white so now I separate the eggs one of at time in a separate bowl. You can use a handmixer for this recipe, I have done it many times and for those who are adventurous and stronger than I am, I cautiously invite you to make them with a whisk. Good luck!
Sift together 2/3 cup icing sugar with 1 tbsp of cornstarch, this is very important! You do not want lumps and the cornstarch ensures that gorgeous soft center.
Meringue Rule #2: Meringues are best made in the winter when humidity is at its lowest. When it is dry, you have the green light to make meringues and right now, wow, is it ever dry here! They came out perfectly.
Fold the icing sugar, cornstarch and my little treats into the meringues. This time I added some white chocolate chips and mint chocolate chips as the secret surprise inside. I considered adding candy cane pieces but chocolate won out.
Meringue Rule #3: Do not over mix the meringue. Stop when you get stiff peaks and from that point on, fold fold fold! No more whisking. Put that whisk away!
Bake in a preheated 225F oven on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your meringues. The best way to move the meringue mixture to the sheet is with an ice cream scoop but if you do not have one you can also use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.
Meringue Rule #4: Step away from the meringues! Once they are in that oven do not open the door. Leave them alone to slowly bake at that low temperature. The only time that door should open is well after an hour to make sure they are baked through.
Beautiful! And they taste just as divine. Laura knows her meringues, the cornstarch really does the trick. Instead of old store-bought meringues that are hard and shatter under your teeth, these fluffy little clouds easily disintegrate into blissful sweetness. You will know the meringues are done by checking the bottoms for a touch of gold colour and they should be light as air.
Meringues are such a special treat that truly should be shared but do not be surprised if someone ends up trying to steal them all away!