I admit it: I’ve been known to squeal and even get teary-eyed when making these meringues. What can I say? They’re just so pretty coming out of the pastry bag. And after you’ve whipped them up and piped them onto baking sheets, you can utilize their long oven time for wrapping gifts or taking care of other seasonal tasks. Swap the colors for others, and you have festive treats for almost any occasion. With their simple recipe and lightweight, tasty results, these merry meringues make an excellent last minute gift.
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sifted powdered or granulated sugar
- 1-2 pinches cream of tartar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon flavored extract (I used mint here)*
- gel food coloring*
- pastry bags and skewers
- crushed candy canes or sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 200 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment; set aside. Beat the egg whites on high. Once they’re getting white and foamy, gradually add the sugar and keep beating until batter is stiff, shiny and opaque. Meanwhile, add a pinch or two of cream of tartar if whites are being stubborn about thickening. Beat in the extract. Fit two pastry bags with tips of your choice, then use a skewer to drag some gel food coloring along the inner walls of each bag in three stripes. (I can’t take credit for this method; I simply saw it somewhere long ago.) Fill each pastry bag with half the meringue. Pipe 1 – 1.25 inch meringues onto prepared cookie sheets. Color will fade a bit as you go. If desired, sprinkle with crushed candy canes or sprinkles. Bake for 60-75 minutes**. (If using more than one oven rack, stop at the halfway mark and switch them.) Turn off oven, leaving cookie sheets there for another 30 minutes. (I don’t recommend leaving them in your oven more than an hour or overnight like some recipes do. Meringues become sticky if there is moisture in the air.) Once at room temperature, transfer meringues into lidded containers, zip-close bags, or gift bags with a twist tie. If your house is humid, you might toss in a food safe desiccant packet such as those found in vitamin bottles. Store meringues at room temperature away from moisture for up to a week.
Colorful, crisp and candy-like, these melt-in-your-mouth meringues are a delight to the eyes and tastebuds alike. I hope you’ll take as much joy as I do in creating them — and as much enthusiasm in devouring each little puff of sweetness as I’ve seen everyone who’s tried them. And if you end up with any left over, these really do make an easy, pretty gift.
*Maybe next time… Almost any extract will do; just remember to avoid any type that contains oil (meringue’s structural enemy), and match the extract flavor with the taste of your topping (if using). Each extract has a different potency, so add it gradually and taste-test. While I’m flexible, I’m not a big advocate of artificial food coloring. There are some good natural brands available nowadays, and I’d bet a dark-colored jam or jelly would work in place of the food coloring in this recipe. Blue and white stripes are beautiful for almost any Jewish holiday, and a variety of primary and secondary colors together make a celebratory combination for any occasion.
**My area tends to be humid; an hour and 15 minutes has proven to be a good baking time for me, but if you live in a drier area, this might be too long (which will simply result in a toastier-colored meringue from the caramelized sugar). You might try pulling a meringue off a cookie sheet at the 1 hour mark and letting it cool; if it’s dry and not gooey, turn off the oven at this point.