Meringue Cookies !!
A meringue is an airy mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and caster sugar , stabilized by adding little bit of acid like lemon , salt or cream of tartar ,often associated with French and Swiss dessert . There are three types of Meringue , French , Italian and Swiss , the process of each being unique though having the same basic ingredients , egg white and caster sugar . Meringue cookies are made by using French meringue . They are dry , crisp but they just melt in your mouth like cotton candy . Since baked at very low temperature for a long period of time , it is named “forgotten cookies ” too . Just put it in the oven and forget !! 🙂 Though the ingredients are very few , but it involves some basic rules to make them right .
2 egg whites ( room temperature)
1/2 ( half) cup caster sugar ( powdered sugar )
Little lemon juice , 1/2 (half) teaspoon
A pinch of salt
1/2 tea spoon vanilla essence
Other ingredients :
Few drops of red food color for pink cookies
Little bit of instant coffee ( sieved ) for the other one
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Don’t use any butter/ oil or don’t grease it .
2. Separate egg white from egg yolk . Careful , if a tiny bit of yolk is in your egg white , meringue will not form . Grease , oil prevents the egg white to reach the peak . It’s easier to separate the egg white when the eggs are cold but to make meringue , to get the best volume , the whites should be at room temperature . So after separating , let it stand for 30 or 40 minutes to come to room temperature .
3. Place the egg whites in a dry ,small metal or glass bowl . Plastic bowls , though clean , sometimes may retain grease and oil and prevents the egg white to foam . Beat egg whites with electric hand beater or mixer until foamy. Sprinkle little lemon juice and salt; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat to dissolve the sugar , one table spoon by one table spoon . Don’t add the sugar all at a time , that would make the meringue runny and ruin completely . Add the vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form. The whole process may take about 5-7 minutes from the beginning if using mixer or electric hand beater . But don’t overbeat , just until the stiff peak form . The meringue is done or the stiff peak formed when it is not runny and when you can hold the bowl of it upside down and none of it drops off.
4 .If desired, divide batter in half and fold in red food coloring in one half and sieve little coffee into the other half.
5. Pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet . You can use the spoon too. Now reduce the heat of the oven to 200 FH . Place the baking tray to the oven . meringue cookies should be done at low heat . If the oven is too hot , the meringue will get the color , leaving the inside wet . Bake for 1 hour or more at this low temperature or until dry . Let it cool in the wire rack and then store them in an air tight container . 🙂
1. Any trace of yolk will ruin your meringue. Same with any drop of oil or grease .
2. Sugar needs to be added tablespoon by tablespoon at the soft-peak stage. Though laborious, but don’t hurry to add the whole lot at once. Undissolved sugar attracts moisture, which can ruin your meringue. Superfine sugar dissolves more quickly and in meringue we use powdered and caster sugar .
The ratio for making crisp meringue cookies is , 1/4th cup of sugar for each egg white . 🙂
3. The oven should not be too hot . Bake it at the lowest temperature as possible . Otherwise , it will be browned too soon , leaving the centre undone and chewy .
4. Try not to make meringue in a humid day as the sugar in the meringue attracts moisture and will make it chewy. It may take longer for the meringue to bake and dry out in the oven too .
5. Don’t grease the baking tray . The meringue will collapse if it comes contact to grease .