Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Last Saturday we had our first serious winter snow here in Ann Arbor. It started out lightly in the morning as just a few sprinkles, but picked up by the afternoon and evening. I love snowy days, but I absolutely detest driving around in the snow. That’s why I spent my Saturday tucked indoors doing some of my holiday baking. I made a plate of cookies for our downstairs neighbor as a thank you for collecting our packages while we were out of town. Nothing says thank you like a plate full of Christmas cookies!
Meringue Cookies are so light and airy, sweet and crisp that they seem to just melt in your mouth. I love how the outsides of the meringues are nice and crisp, yet the insides remain wonderfully soft and puffy. There are a few things to keep in mind when making meringue cookies. Cream of tartar is used in the whipping of egg whites to stabilize them and allows them to reach maximum volume. Also, it is a good idea to use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line your baking sheets, not wax paper, as the meringue will sometimes stick to wax paper. Baking the meringues in a slow oven allows for gradual evaporation of the moisture from the meringues. If the oven temperature is too high, the outside of the meringue will dry and set too quickly.
Makes 5 dozen
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring, optional
Preheat oven to 225°F. Beat egg whites in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. (If using a freestanding mixer, use wire whisk attachment.) Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Beat in extract and food color until well blended. Gently stir in chips, if desired.
Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto 2 large foil-lined baking sheets sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Bake both sheets of meringues at the same time 45 minutes. Turn oven off. Let meringues stand in oven 1 hour or until completely cooled.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
Make sure your beater and mixing bowl are spotlessly clean. Any grease in the mixture will deflate the meringue.To make different shapes of meringue, spoon meringue mixture into large resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner of the bag and gently squeeze to pipe meringue onto baking sheets. Pipe into various shapes, such as hearts, “kisses,” letters, numbers, etc.