Wednesday, December 8, 2010

80(ish)--- Peppermint Vanilla Meringues

Christmas cookie season is upon us. I usually leave this festive practice to my mother-in-law, but this year I think I will join in.

I've always heard about these airy little cookie treasure called "meringues" but I had never had one. The best part? Each of these treats contains only 8 calories, no fat, 2 g sugar, and they are gluten-free.
In my opinion, making a meringue (used to top pies) can be a stressful endeavor. What if stiff peaks don't form? Are your egg whites too cold? Too much sugar? Was there yolk mixed in somewhere with your whites?

Don't fret! These were so easy! You can use just about any pure extract or oil to flavor these: almond, peppermint, vanilla, butter, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut.......

Vanilla Peppermint Meringues
Makes 80 cookies

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tarter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Carefully separate egg whites from yolk. Tip: break each egg over a small bowl and separate white into bowl, making sure that no yolk follows the white. THEN transfer that white into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Repeat for 2 remaining eggs. This way, if you do have some yolk "seepage" it will not contaminate your other whites!

Add cream of tarter to egg white and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. Add extracts and beat for additional 30 seconds.

Using a spatula, place meringue into a large ziploc bag. Seal bag with a small amount of air remaining inside. Carefully cut off one corner of the bag to create a 1/2 inch hole.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place a small drop of meringue under each corner of paper to help secure it to the pan. Gently squeeze meringue from bag to form drops 1 1/2" in diameter. Continue process to fill baking sheet, placing drops 1/2" apart.

Place oven racks in middle 1/3 of oven. Place one baking sheet on each rack and bake for ~1 hour or until meringues are crispy and cooked through. Remove meringues from baking sheet and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container (up to 5 days).

If meringues become chewy prior to serving, place in 200 degree oven for ~10 minutes to crisp.

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