Saturday, December 18, 2010

Meringue cookies

A novice conquers her fear and enters a unknown territory. It's about time! Anyone who worked with these knows what I'm talking about. You need to beat the egg whites, just right. A few beats shy and you don't get the peak that you were anticipating. A couple extra beats & you loose the peak/ fluff & shine and end up with curdle mess. Apart from these problems, the worst is the crack on the finished product (I had 2 hairline crack on my cookies, 2 out of 75, not bad, I say). A "baking experiment that yielded perfection" is a beautiful day!.

Meringue cookies a k a Cashew macaroon: who knew that a shapeless mound of snowy tower with bits of cashew nuts poking through, would change a mom's priorities for a day?! "Today is the changing day in your life", picture Dr Phil's voice as you read this. Overcoming fear of deflated macaroon/ meringue & moving on is crossed off of my list today!

You may think, why in the world, would I want this so bad!
The answer is
(1) I don't accept failure well,
(2)At a recent trip to homeland, a little friend presented my kids with a packet of meringue also called as cashew macaroon (not to be mistaken with coconut cookies called as macaroons as well) that they absolutely loved &
(3) lastly, I live in a land where such desi delicacies are rare and with any luck if I happen to find a packet, they are near-rotten.

I've finally overcome the fear of deflated dry meringues.
The keys to remember are:
do not open the oven impatiently while baking these cuties.
Use cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue
beat egg whites to soft peaks( at least) before you add sugar.
If adding nuts or choc chips, add it to the piped meringues not to the batter.

Pics didn't do justice, but is up for curious cats.

Thanks to Sandra Lee's recipe, we now have a perfect 'kisses'
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon imitation strawberry extract
3 drops red food coloring

Special Equipment: Pastry bag
#4 star tip
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat egg whites in clean large metal bowl on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Increase speed to high and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Quickly mix in strawberry extract. Stir in food coloring, 1 drop at a time, until desired color is achieved.

Spoon meringue into pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe 12 (1 1/2-inch high by 1 1/2 -inch in diameter) mounds onto each prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake for 3 hours, or until dry and crisp. Cool meringues completely on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Geet said...

Hello Gayatri,
I have a query, as i understand it meringues are baked at very low temperatures for long hours I may be wrong here though :D so could you please state the temp that you used to bake these meringues ( I just went through the Rose Kisses recipes)
Thanks in advance.

Merry Christmas n A Happy New Year to you n your family. :)

G said...

Hi Geet,
You are right about the meringues being baked for long hours. I baked mine at 2ooF/93C for 3 hrs.

P.S: Do not take out of oven immediately (to prevent cracks). Shut off the oven & leave the oven door ajar till it cools.
Happy meringue making ...bake away! :)

Merry Christmas & a happy new year to you & your beloveds, as well!