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Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Wonder of Meringues

I've seen many photos of meringue cookies and I love how many of them look like dollops of icing or stiff swirled cream in various colors.

Here are a few photos of meringues that I not only enjoy looking at but that showcase the various ways meringue cookies, biscuits or drops can be made:

Meringue "cookies" don't incorporate flour into the mixture like most cookies do. Meringue cookies or drops, as their name suggests are made primarily from egg whites using other ingredients such as sugar (traditionally white although I have seen brown sugar meringues), cream of tartar, flavor extracts and coloring. Some people add other inclusions such as sugar pearls, chocolate ganache (sometimes sandwiched between two meringue cookies like in two of the photos displayed above), nuts, white chocolate and so forth.

You can be as creative and wild as you want to be with custom meringue recipes. I personally love when they come in a collection of hues from a sweet shop color palette. So fitting.

They are quite easy to make and here's a simple recipe that I gathered from Taste of Home magazine's Best Loved Cookies and Bars edition.

Meringue Drops
"If you don't have time to pipe the meringue for these melt-in-your-mouth cookies, it could be spooned into 2-in. circles.  Different extracts could be added to the meringue to change the flavor."

*Yields about 2 dozen

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Food coloring (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
White pearl or coarse sugar (optional)

1) Place the egg whites in a large bowl, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and food coloring if desired on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.

2)  Cut small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert #3 star pastry tip. Fill the bag with meringue.  Pipe 2-in. circles or shapes 2 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with pearl sugar if desired.
3) Bake at 300° for 20-25 minutes or until set and dry.  Turn off oven and do not open door; leave the meringues in the oven for 1 hour. Store in an air-tight container.

I suggest picking up the issue online either through this link or elsewhere. The entire issue has a TON of beautiful photos and tasty recipes of cookie and bar desserts. It's ridiculously inspirational. I just happened to find this link online of the magazine as I already have the issue and I wanted to properly reference it. I collect so many food and dessert books and magazines, so I have a fast-growing collection.

Update: Take a look at my entry on making meringues: LINK

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