That old fashioned fave – The Meringue
If you know from good, home-made meringue, just the mention of the word meringue is bringing that extra-sweet melt-in-your-mouth crunch and crumble sensation – and your mouth is probably watering.
Meringue can be so simple, or you can dress it up in fancy layers and flavours.
My boys love it plain.
This is actually one of the top choices they ask for whenever there’s a bake sale, school concert sweet table or a pot luck. Because it’s easy, sometimes I whip up a small batch as a treat. And what’s great is that it’s really not terribly hard to make, you can make a dozen or you can just as easily make 50 or more at a time.
What you need:
– 8 egg whites
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 tsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
– 1 tsp of vanilla
You can adjust the size of your batch by keeping the ratio of 1/4 cup of sugar per egg white, so make a small batch or a very large one.
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 250°.
Get your stand mixer out and be prepared to let it go. I couldn’t do this by hand and have no idea how they made these before modern appliances – but they did.
Whip the egg whites on high until they’re fluffy, and form stiff peaks. Don’t stop the mixer, just add the vinegar. The vinegar stabilizes the egg white foam. Add the vanilla too, and then start spooning in tablespoons of sugar, adding it in slowly, blending thoroughly.
Once the sugar has been completely mixed in, keep blending for another few minutes. It will look glossy and gooey, kind of like you might imagine how liquid marshmallow would look.
When it’s thick and stiff, it’s time to bake. You can scoop spoonfuls of it into mounds or you can use a piping bag to pipe out cookies. You can use an ungreased cookie sheet for smaller batches. When making large batches, I line an oven rack with tinfoil and cover the entire surface with meringues. I like to pipe little swirls.
If you want to get just a bit fancy, sprinkle crushed candy cane or shave a bit of chocolate onto them. The flavours should be subtle, just like the light and foamy soft crunch of the meringue. you can even add a few drops of food colouring before you stop blending and make them colourful.
Bake meringues for one hour at 250°, then turn the oven off and leave the cookies in the oven to dry out for another hour or so. They will caramelize and go slightly brown. If you don’t dry them for the extra hour, they’ll have chewy centres, they’re pretty good this way too. But the long drying gives them that signature melt in your mouth crunch.
These are a classic. I’m not sure who can turn one down, but this past week at the bake sale they were gone before my boys could come back and buy seconds. Yes, my boys ate a dozen before I handed them over to the bake sale table and then proceeded to buy two more, and I love them for using their money to buy the treats I make. It’s satisfying.