It was 65 degrees yesterday, as it was the day before that, and the day before that. Forgive my confusion, but is it, or is it not December in New York? I mean, there are less than 3 weeks left ’til Christmas! I have fuzzy yellow gloves to bust out! My wool coat is feeling neglected! Winter, where are you!? To make matters worse, I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to soak in the Christmas spirit that I love so much. I managed to decorate my apartment a few weeks ago, but that’s as far as I got. So, when I got back from a business trip to Miami this past weekend (oh poor me, I know..it was lovely, but NOT Christmas!!), I was determined to get the season started.
Meringues (not merengues, multiple latin dances) are kind of magical. With a little (a lot) of whisking, two simple ingredients transform into crisp, airy, melt-in-your-mouth creamy bites. They’re fat free! They’re quick! And they accept any flavor you feel like imparting. Honestly, I don’t think that meringues are inherently Christmas-y, but when you add peppermint flavoring and stripe them like free-form candy canes, suddenly they’re little bites of Holiday Joy.
I’ll admit that I made two batches of these. The first I overcooked. You don’t want to let these brown because, although still edible, the caramely flavor they develop when browned doesn’t really go with the icy peppermint. The second batch, however, turned out perfectly-glossy and crisp and refreshing. Sadly, I had neglected to check the weather forecast, which is Rule Number One when it comes to meringue making. If there is rain within a 200 mile radius, if it is summer in any humid area, or it will rain any time in the next 24 hours, do not bother. Your poor, cheerful little cookies will turn to sticky, teeth-ruining confections from hell. Trust. (Other than that you should totally make these!!)
From Bon Appétit. Makes 40-60, depending on size.
I personally think that 200°F is too high for meringues. The problem is that ovens rarely hold low temperatures very well. If your oven can manage 175°F, then set it to that and bake for ~90 minutes, being sure to watch your meringues for signs of browning. If, like mine, your oven refuses to hold temperatures below 250°F, then turn your oven as low as it will go, bake for 75-90 min (or sooner if they start to brown), then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the hot oven until totally dry.
3 lg egg whites, room temperature
1/8 t kosher salt
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/8 t peppermint extract
12 drops red food coloring
- Preheat oven to 175 or 200°F, whatever your oven can manage (see above). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in high until foamy (~1 min)
- WIth mixer running, add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1-2 min between each addition
- Beat until firm peaks form (~2 min)
- Add the powdered sugar and peppermint extract and beat until blended (~1 min)
- Dot the food coloring over the meringue (don’t mix! this will form the stripes)
- Spoon into a pastry bag (or a large ziplock with the corner cut off) with a large round or fluted tip
- Pipe 1″ mounds onto the parchment, 1″ apart
- Bake ~90 minutes or until crisp, but not brown
- Let cool completely