Meringue Cookies

Meringues are a classic.  This light, crunchy cookie is just about the most basic of recipes, with the main ingredients consisting of egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar (I add vanilla extract, but of course there's no requirement on that one).  This one requires few steps during the prep stages, but as I learned while making these, the baking stage is what matters.  For the recipe, I checked back in with The Cooky Book that I inherited from my late grandmother.  Just recently I posted Lemon Bars that were from the book, and those were killer.  I know the book is trustworthy based on the fact it's loaded with notes from my grandmother and is more of a taped together stack of pages than an actually book these days.  If I were to make a cookbook, that's exactly the fate I'd wish upon it.

Now to the good stuff.  I dumped the egg whites into my stand mixing bowl, then started beating them on high with my whisk attachment.  I added cream of tartar as they mixed, using just a small amount to help the eggs hold up a bit better.  My source recipe called for slowly cooking the egg whites on the stove, but I decided to go a different route and just go straight from whipping to baking.  I've seen many versions of meringues, and this was the method my mom always used.  


I used the whisk attachment on my mixer to beat the egg whites ffor 2 mnutes or so, until they began to look white in color and fluffed up.  That's when I gradually added in the sugar, vanilla extract, and a little bit of salt, then continued beating them until they had some peaks forming (another minute or two).  My typical practice for the sugar is to use brown, however with egg whites requiring all the lightness they can get, I was concerned brown sugar would just be too heavy.  So white sugar it is.  Its easiest to tell that the eggs are ready by just pulling the beater out and seeing how the egg whites on the beater hold up.  If they stand up, they have enough air beaten in them to make a solid meringue.


I used a mini scoop to spoon them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.


They looked like Peeps!


I let the meringues bake for 20 minutes, until they were lightly browned and crispy.  I let them cool down before transferring them to an airtight container.  This is a step I might try something different with next time - I saw a few recipes that called for letting the meringues sit in the oven after it was turned off for a time so they would dry out even more from the heat. I think this would be handy to help them stay firm.


These turned out light and crispy, just the way I like!  They weren't the model meringue, however.  As you may notice, mine are a flatter variety, however my ideal meringue cookie is thicker and smaller in diameter.  I did not want to overwhip the eggs and make them too tough, but a bit longer under the beater may have given them some more firmness.  For sure, next time I will let them sit in the heat a bit longer.  My cookies were perfect right after baking, but softened up overnight.  The cool thing about meringues is not only how simple they are to make, but also the variety.  I've heard of blueberry meringues, chocolate chip, and even seen various colors.  How about taking some of that orange extract I used before and making a crunchy, orange meringue?  Options are always a good thing.

Meringue Cookes Recipe

Ingredients:

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar

Instructions:

Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Add egg whites to stand mixing bowl. Begin beating on high, then add in cream of tartar. Once egg whites begin to look airy, mix in sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Continue beating another 1-2 minutes, until egg whites are firm and fluffy.  Spoon onto parchment lined sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned.  Allow to cool before storing in airtight container.

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