Sunday's lemon curd left me with six orphaned egg whites. I thought about making an angel food cake, but then a friend suggested making meringues. I haven't made them in ages, but thought that it sounded like a good idea. Meringues are so light and airy and they practically melt in your mouth. If made correctly, the outsides are crisp and the insides are soft. The recipe I used comes from The Joy Of Baking but they are all pretty similar. And since St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, I tinted them green.
The recipe is pretty straightforward. And I used double the amounts of everything because I had 6 egg whites to use and they were all in a bowl together. So I now have a LOT of meringues.
3 large eggwhites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup superfine or caster sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30 seconds in a food processor)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can form the cookies with a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip, or just use two spoons to make the cookies. To get the textured look on mine, I used a zip type storage bag, snipped a hole and added a large star tip.
A stand mixer is easiest for this, since it takes a while to whip the egg whites. In the bowl of the electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.
Notice how it's standing up all on it's own? That's a stiff peak.
Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe 2 1/2 inch rounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet.
My little helper
Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. If the weather is damp, they may need a little longer in the oven. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying overnight.
Ideally, they should be on one rack only, but I made a double batch and needed to get them all in the oven.
My almost 4 year old kept asking, all evening, can I have a cookie? Can I have a cookie? He did manage to get his fair share of tastes of the meringue from the bowl, though. These came out great and got the "kid stamp of approval" from him and the neighborhood kids.
I used the vanilla extract called for in the recipe, but I was thinking while I was making these how they would taste with other flavored extracts, like mint or almond.