There is no cookie or confection that is more elegant and simply yummy than meringues. The ultra light texture of crumbling sweetness dissolving into nothingness on your tongue is devine. For those of you that have never eaten one of these things…you gotta try it. At least once. Bonus points of this dessert is that it is definitely fat free, and flour free.
When I lived in Paris many years ago, patisseries were super common there. Pastries, cakes and baguettes at every bakery on every corner. No donuts at all. No Wonder Bread. You could have every baked confectionery at your finger tips…and over there it was not “fancy” to do so on a daily basis. It was routine every day living. How I miss the French and their relative ease at achieving everyday classiness as the norm. I discovered meringue cookies there, and developed an appreciation for this simple and sweet cookie. My problem was when I moved back to Toronto, I could not find meringue cookies anywhere. It was back to pasty flavourless donuts, and overly sweet over the counter candy. I had to teach myself how to make these things. (This post is about nail jobs, and I am getting there, trust me.) And after many failed attempts at creating meringue at home here, I finally perfected a recipe that works. Making meringue is a little trickier than regular cookie dough because it relies on timing to get the fluffiest volume of egg whites. Here is my recipe:
Pretty and Pretty Easy Meringue Cookie recipe:
egg whites of 6 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
Preheat oven to 200 C.
Step 1: Separate the egg whites. Do this while they are cold from the fridge, and do it MOST carefully. Even a speck of egg yolk will prevent your whites from reaching peak volume. Leave it in a bowl to warm up to room temperature (1 hour approx.)
Step 2: Beating. This part is very important and is what making meringue is all about. Timing is key here. Start with a medium/low speed and beat the eggwhites with an electric beater until it is foamy. Not stiff enough to hold any peaks. Add your cream of tartar, and continue beating medium/slow until the second stage which is soft peaks. This is when your egg whites are starting to stiffen and turn whiter. Soft peaks hold when you pull up the beater. This is when you slowly add the sugar, bit by bit, giving time for each spoonful to incorporate into the egg white mixture and add even more structure and stiffness to it. Keep beating and adding the sugar at a steady rate. About a tablespoon for 5-10 seconds, until all the sugar is in. Add your vanilla and almond extract. Let it reach full volume by beating at medium/low for a minute or two. And when you feel it is at max stiffness, stop and enjoy the beautiful white fluffy batter.
Step 3: Using two spoons, scoop a dollop of the batter and slide it off with the other spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Make sure they are irregular shaped and not perfect, because they bake out beautifully.
Step 4: Baking/Drying: Meringue cookies are not really baked. They are actually drying out in the oven, hence the low oven temperature of 200. Some people bake meringues at a lower temperature for longer, but I find 200 C for 2 hours in the middle racks is perfect. Turn off and leave alone for at least an hour…feel free to experiment a bit with time until perfect. ENJOY!
These cookies are so delicious on their own or with whipped cream and fruit. A lot of people put a bit of food colouring into them so that they take on all shades of pastel colours. My recent nail job was inspired by the meringue because matte pastel nail colours really remind me of the sweet and smooth texture and prettiness of this cookie. I recently matte top coated my nails in pastel colours of pink, blue and white. Meringue inspired fun with nails!