My son came home from school last Friday and said that his classmate had bought a meringue from the bakery and let him taste it. He could not stop talking about how delicious it was soI asked him if he would like to make some and he was thrilled. Like his mother, he is so easily thrilled.
I have never made meringue cookies but I do make pavlova, in fact I am planning to make a pavlova for christmas dinner, so this would be a nice little dry run. Honestly, I have always assumed that I would hate meringues on their own and have thought that it's all that whipped cream soaking into a pavlova that makes the meringue all marshmallowy and chewy inside. They just look so dry and cardboard like and the odd meringue I have tasted over the years have not thrilled me at all. Nonetheless, I promised him that we could make some on Sunday. I did my usual due diligence and read 500 recipes. I searched tastespotting, Cook's Illustrated, flipped through some cookbooks and decided to make This recipe from Laura Calder from French Food at Home on Food Network Canada. I gathered all of our supplies on Saturday, looking forward to an afternoon of christmas tree hunting, gift shopping and coming home to make some lovely meringues.
We woke up Sunday morning and it was mild and pouring rain. It is mid December in Toronto, for god's sake, not Vancouver and the last thing I expected to wake up to was rain. I know little about meringue making but after reading about them for an entire evening, I knew one thing. YOU CAN'T MAKE MERINGUES WHEN IT IS RAINING OR DAMP OR YOU HAVE JUST RUN THE DISHWASHER OR IF YOUR STOVE IS IN YOUR BATHROOM AND YOU JUST HAD A LONG, HOT SHOWER!!!
It would seem that humidity is the nemesis of the meringue and if we go ahead and make them when it is humid and mild and raining cats and dogs, we do so at our own risk. Since this was my first attempt, I was not about to let my first attempt fail miserably so we chose to wait.
The next day I decided to run the dishwasher, move the stove into the bathroom and take a long, hot shower and run the humidifier so we waited until last night.
Oh my, they were totally worth the wait. I can't wait for the kid to wake up so he can have one with his breakfast. They are crispy on the outside and all soft and spongy on the inside. They are not, unfortunately, pretty. I didn't have a piping bag and just glopped them on the parchment with two spoons but they really are a dry run batch so I will get a piping bag today and make a pretty batch tonight. The deliciousness makes up for the homeliness, in my opinion. Little Shack would like them to be just a bit crispier on the outside so I will cook them for an extra 15 or 20 minutes. I cooked this batch for 1 hr and then turned off the oven and let them sit in the oven for another hour.
- 4 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or orange flower water, or maple extract)
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Whip the whites and salt into peaks, add the vanilla, and continue beating to stiff peaks. Stir the cream of tartar into the regular sugar and whisk into the whites very gradually, a spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and the sugar has dissolved. Sift together the icing sugar and cornstarch. Sift over the meringue and gently fold until fully incorporated.
- Pipe or spoon the meringues onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 225ºF/110ºC until cream-coloured and crisp on top when tapped, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Remove from the oven. Cool on the trays. Store in an air-tight container.