Are you a fan of cotton candy? Well I am. I like that sort of jaw-aching sweetness. Meringue cookies remind you of cotton candy, except they don’t look anything like neon pink spun sugar. They are a lot more docile, pure white, as they should be but as fun as cotton candy.
Now there are a lot of rule books written on meringue-making but these are the ones I follow:
– Separate your eggs when they are cold. They make separating easier. Before making meringue, bring the egg whites to room temperature.
– Clean, clean, clean. Clean bowl, clean whisks, clean everything.
– Use an electric beater. Using a hand whisk was an age old method, unless you have that sort of arm power, I wouldn’t recommend it.
– Add a pinch of cream of tartar or salt to your egg whites before beating them. They stabilize the egg whites hence your egg whites foam up more.
– Beat the egg whites for a while till they form soft peaks before adding sugar.
– Add the sugar in 2 or 3 batches.
– Every recipe calls for different meringue consistencies, and for meringue cookies, you will need to attain stiff peaks. There is no written duration as to how long you will need to beat your whites to achieve stiff peaks.
– When your egg whites are stiff, they will be glossy and when scooped out by a whisk they will stand straight. Try tilting the bowl on your head and they shouldn’t fall out. I’ve tried it and they really don’t.
– Do not over whip your egg whites. They will break!
– You will have to bake the meringues between 79 C – 94 C approximately. Now this is the tricky part – most domestic ovens, including mine, start only at a 100 C. So I preheat my oven at 100 C.
– Your meringues shouldn’t change colour drastically. They should retain their whiteness. Mine usually becomes a very pale blond, but that’s okay, they are still tidy as white.
– What you should look for when the meringues have come out is a crisp exterior and a chewy interior. When you bite into them, they do turn into oblivion.
This is pretty much everything you will have to know about baking meringues. Now, off to the recipe.
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar or salt
Makes approximately 30 – 35 cookies.
- Preheat your oven to 100 C.
- Get two 9 by 11 inch baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. Set them aside.
- Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them on med-high speed until they form soft peaks.
- Continuing to beat, add 1/2 the sugar. Beat in high speed for 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
- Fit a disposable piping bag with star nozzle. Fill the piping bag with meringue mix. Take some of the meringue in your finger and smear on the baking sheet so that the parchment paper sticks to the sheet. Do the same for all the corners of the sheet.
- Start piping the meringues into shapes of your choice. Usually meringue cookies come in little rosettes. For this, hold the tip right above the baking sheet (90 degree angle), and apply a little pressure on the bag till you think you have achieved the desired size. You can also make little swirls or logs like I have. I believe piping is very intuitive. Go with the flow.
- Bake the cookies in for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. If you don’t want to bake them all at one go, you can bake them in two batches.
- Once the cookies are done, cool them. You can dip them in chocolate sauce, ganache, sandwich them with jam or simply dust cocoa on them. They taste lovely plain as well.