So, historically I’m not a fan of meringue cookies. I just don’t enjoy the texture, or the kind of pure sugar flavor profile they often have. Now, I love meringue on top of pie, or tarts, just not baked into little cookies. I guess you could say I enjoy wet meringue, but dislike dry meringue. I’m not entirely sure those are real baking terms, but they accurately describe the categories of meringue in my mind. BUT, I saw some really beautiful meringue cookies on instagram last week and decided to give them another chance.
These meringues are good, but I overdid the peppermint extract. I’ve cut the portion wayyy down for the final version of this recipe. The first time I tasted one, I described the flavor fondly as ‘eating a cookie while brushing your teeth’ Blech. Now they’re lightly minty, in a pleasing way.
I mostly was making them for the visual appeal, and I wanted to try out this really cool method for making swirls I had seen in an old Martha Stewart video. You paint stripes on the inside of a piping bag, and the meringue comes out swirly and beautiful, how cool is that?
Anyway, I had everything I needed to make these cookies at home, except the peppermint flavoring. I snatched some up at the store along with some other items on a routine grocery run.
Roll around to later that evening, I’m standing in the kitchen staring at my second batch of failed meringue. It would get to the ‘soft peak’ stage, and then just fall, no matter how much I beat it, all I got was something the texture of sad marshmallow fluff.
At that point, I was out of egg whites and really frustrated. I started to angry clean the kitchen in an act of defeat when I picked up the bottle of extract to put away. The first ingredient: sunflower oil. I was doomed from the moment I picked that tiny bottle up. After I replaced the ridiculous mint extract, with some reasonable, alcohol based peppermint extract, this recipe proceeded easily.
Yields about 50 cookies.
3/4 Cup Sugar
4 Teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
4 Large Egg Whites(Room Temp)
1/8 Teaspoon Mint Extract(Make sure it’s alcohol based)
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
Red Gel Food Coloring
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees fahrenheit.
- Prepare your piping bag: fit it with a 1/2 inch star shaped tip, then using a paintbrush, brush three or four long stripes vertically along the inside of your bag, from tip to top. Use the gel liberally, and go over your stripes a few times to make sure they’re thick.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix together cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Set aside.
- Using a whisk attachment on a stand mixer, or hand held electric beater, peppermint extract, salt, and egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. The white should look foamy and fluffy.
- Slowly pour in sugar mixture while beating at a medium speed. Scraping down side of bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary.
- Increase speed back up to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. Meringue should look stiff and shiny.
- Transfer meringue to your piping bag (I prop my piping bag up using a pint glass).
- Pipe meringue into 1 1/4 inch cookies onto prepared baking sheets. You can pipe them fairly close together, as they don’t spread much.
- Bake for one hour, rotating pan halfway through.
- After the one hour, turn off oven but leave meringues in oven for an additional hour.
- They’re ready. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
If you want to pipe really exact meringues, use a pencil to trace 1 1/4 inch circles onto your parchment paper before piping. Then flip the parchment over, so you can see your outlines but your cookies won’t get graphite on them. I usually take a standard ruler, and start measuring all the caps and jars in my kitchen until I find something round and close in measurement, then use that to trace perfect circles. If you have a mini jar of St.George Absinthe at home, the cap is a perfect 1 1/4 inches!
In general when making meringue, you want to make sure everything that touches your egg whites is clean and dry. Don’t use a plastic bowl, preferably work with a metal or other non porous material. Egg whites should be fresh, and room temperature. If you get any egg yolk at all in your whites, your meringue won’t whip up, so be careful when separating. This also applies to any oil, or fat of any kind. Like ridiculous oil based peppermint extract.
When piping these, I find that keeping your piping bag straight up and down results in the prettiest shape, as opposed to swirling the tip of piping bag.
If your cookies brown at all, the oven is too hot. They shouldn’t change in color nearly at all while baking, or bubble. If either of those things begin to happen, take your cookies out, turn the oven temperature down a little, wait for the temperature to adjust, and then put your cookies back in.