Meringues – the very name sounds romantic, exotic, and intimidating, to novice cooks like me. I love the light, airy crispness of meringue cookies. I never imagined they are so simple to make. Well, at least in theory. It has only a couple of ingredients. But the technique… that is where I went wrong! For my first attempt, they didn’t exactly turn out as I envisioned. Nevertheless, I managed to salvage them and they were sure tasty.
I learnt a couple of things here. The ingredient list may be short, but don’t leave out the most important one – Patience. That’s right. Do it right and you will end up with beautiful, fluffy, cloud-like meringues.
Now, meringues need just egg whites and sugar. Some recipes call for cream of tartar. But in my research, a lot of websites swore it makes no difference. I can’t say for sure. Anyway, I used just egg whites and sugar. And just a little hint of vanilla flavor and food coloring.
You will need:
- Egg whites – from 2 large eggs
- Fine Sugar – 1/2 cup (1/4 cup per egg white)
- Dash of vanilla extract (optional)
- Dash of food color (optional)
- Separate the egg whites while still cold. (It is easier, trust me.)
- Let egg whites come to room temperature. (Be patient. Unfortunately, this was my first mistake.)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg.F.
- Place the egg whites in a metal or glass mixing bowl. Using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer (or a hand whisk, if you are super strong), begin beating the eggs. After several minutes they will start to thicken. Continue beating until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, gradually (over several minutes) add the sugar. Continue to beat the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Be patient! (Again, ask me how I know. My egg whites never really formed very stiff peaks. I had a very curious little Boy wanting to know why I had the mixer on for such a long time and when the cookies would be done. Anyway, I decided to wing it and thought I would bake them anyway.)
- Fold in the vanilla extract and food color, if using. Use gel food colors, so that no unnecessary moisture is introduced in the mixture.
- Pipe or place teaspoonfuls of the meringue on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake in the oven for about an hour or till they are completely dry. The recipes I referred, suggested letting them sit overnight to make sure they are completely dry. Again, be patient! (But come on, who are we kidding, right? Personally, I liked them with just a hint of chewiness in the center!)
- And there you have it. Tiny morsels of heaven! You can’t eat just one!!
I thought they would be an utter disaster, but they turned out okay. I really need to follow the instructions and try this again.
What about you? Do you have any recipes that you thought were failures, but turned out okay? Do you have any tips for forming the perfect meringue?
PS: Two eggs gave me way more cookies than in the pic above, I just forgot to take a photo earlier!
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