Posted on November 08 2013
Week 5 of the Christmas Cookie Exchange Challenge…
It’s that time of the week again – I am fresh from a week off of baking and ready to jump back into my challenge. Eight days into November already and I am really feeling the Christmas season come up fast. Hallmark is well into its Holiday Movie Marathons, Santa is showing up in more and more commercials (I actually cried at one this morning, which I promised my husband I wouldn’t tell anyone but I guess that cat is out of the bag – at least I am not divulging WHICH one it was.) This week’s cookie contender is a Peppermint Meringue from the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies Magazine. Easy to make, gorgeous (at least in the magazine), not so easy to transport but I was really thinking this could be a good choice. Well, maybe I need a bit more patience, the proper tools, some added practice – maybe a bit of all three? They didn’t turn out quite as pretty as the magazine but the taste was perfect. Here is how it went this morning…
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
Red paste food coloring
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar, peppermint extract, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). A quick tip about egg whites – separate the yolks and whites into different bowls than the rest of the ingredients and put the whites in the mixing bowl one at a time. That way if you accidentally get some yolk mixed in you don’t ruin multiple eggs or the rest of the ingredients. Egg whites will not beat correctly if there is any yolk mixed in!
Next, gradually add in the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).
Using a new small artist’s paintbrush, brush stripes of red food coloring on the inside of a decorating bag fitted with a ½ inch open star tip.
Ok, this might have been my first misstep – using the wrong tools. My decorators bag was very small (and I definitely over filled it) and my star tip was too small as well. Still probably with a bit more patience I could have just made mini versions of the ones in the magazine. Oh well, once your painting is done carefully spoon egg white mixture into bag. Another tip - next time instead of a "decorators bag" I would just use a gallon size ziploc with a small whole cut out of the corner for the tip to go through.
Pipe 2-inch stars 1-inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. My first attempt at piping these went horribly wrong – to be blunt it looked like a pile of red and white dog poop. I was holding the bag in the air and letting the egg white mixture “fall” onto the cookie sheet when I should have been “pressing” the mixture down more and letting the star form around the tip.
Here is where the practice and a bit more patience comes into play! But alas with a small business to run and a baby about to wake from a morning nap I punted and simply swirled the food coloring into the egg white mixture and spooned out dollops of pinkish clouds onto my cookie sheets. Probably making them more in line for Valentine’s Day than Christmas but that’s ok, put them on a plate something green and it would instantly solve that.
Anyway back to the baking – bake them for about 1 ½ hours or until meringues appear dry and are firm when lightly touched. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool.
According to Better Homes and Gardens you can freeze them for up to 3 months, personally I don’t know how that would work as meringues really don’t like much moisture or they tend to get gummy but if you try it – let me know how it goes! I plan on giving them away tomorrow at the market to get your opinion on them fresh. Make sure you come early so we don’t run out!
Now how would they do at the cookie exchange? Maybe if I could get the presentation down I would think about bringing these. The taste is fantastic and I could certainly see pairing them with a nice hot cocoa for a seasonal dessert. But they can’t hold a candle to the linzer cookies from a few weeks back. In fact I don’t even know why I keep trying to top those because I don’t think I ever could. We’ll see next week though as we delve into something green with: Slice-and-Bake Wreaths.