Light as air, these little cookies melt in your mouth. They make lovely gifts. Package them by the dozen in clear cellophane bags tied with ribbon for hostess gifts or party favors. The eggs cannot be replaced in this recipe.
MAKES 36 COOKIES.
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Wash a mixing bowl and whisk attachment with very hot water. Dry thoroughly.
2. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment or a mixing bowl with hand mixer, beat egg whites, sugar and vanilla at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Use a very clean rubber spatula to place meringue in a disposable plastic pastry bag fitted with a clean large cake decorating tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag or tip, create your own piping bag: Place meringue in a large plastic freezer bag and cut the tip of one corner of the bag at an angle, removing about ½-inch from corner.
4. Pipe 1-inch mounds of meringue onto prepared cookie sheets. They will not spread during baking.
5. Place in preheated oven and bake 2 hours. Then turn off oven and let meringues sit in oven an additional 2 hours or overnight to dry out.
MERINGUE COOKIE VARIETIES
For Flavored Meringue Kisses, omit vanilla extract and add 2 teaspoons of your favorite flavor extract. Be certain the extract doesn’t contain oil.
For Chocolate Meringue Kisses, add ½ cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder near the end of the whisking process in step 2.
TIPS FOR MAKING MERINGUES
Make Ahead: You can bake the meringues in advance and store them in airtight containers at room temperature for 2 days. Layer the meringues in the container, placing a piece of parchment paper or wax paper in between each layer to prevent sticking.
Separate Whites: When separating eggs, be certain that no egg yolk finds its way into the egg whites. The fat from the yolk will prevent the egg whites from forming stiff peaks. You can purchase liquid egg whites in a carton at the grocery store.
Use Parchment Paper: Lining baking sheets with parchment paper is a must. Without parchment paper, the meringues will stick to your pans. If you grease the cookie sheet, the meringues will deflate.
Beat to Stiff Peaks: To test for stiff peaks, turn the mixer off and hold your whisk attachment upside down. The meringue should stay in place and appear glossy.
Clean the Equipment: Thoroughly wash each tool and bowl with very hot water and dry it thoroughly before using. Even a touch of grease, fat or oil can deflate the meringue.
Dry Out: It takes time (at least 2 hours) for meringue kisses to dry out in a low-temperature oven. Make meringues in the evening, put them in the oven and then enjoy a good movie or book for a couple of hours.
Each cookie contains 24 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 6g sugars, 1g protein, 10 Est GL.
Recipe by contributor Diane Kittle.