“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of” – Blaise Pascal
Its pretty ironic I am making these as I am not very fond of the “heart” shape and I don’t like super-sweet things. But I have shied away from meringue cookies far too long . I wanted to have a go at them and given we are almost at the end of January already , it made total sense to make them all pink and valentinesy.
Now if you know meringues , you know that they are basically cookies made with whipped egg whites and sugar, stabilised with some cream of tartar. They are then piped out and baked at a low temperature . Sounds simple ? It does , except it involves whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. If you have ever read up about whipping egg whites perfectly , it will instill the fear of God in you ! So many rules of doing it just the right way and horror stories of failed meringue. Exactly why I almost dreaded these cookies.
Anyways I braced myself and tried a couple of ways of “meringuing” – sounds more like a dance form right. I wanted to use granulated sugar as thats what I usually have on hand and I avoid sifting whenever possible !Also , the only use I know of cream of tartar is to stabilise whipped egg whites and the only time I bought it , i used a dash of it and the rest of the tin sat on my shelf until it hit its expiry date. You could of course use lemon juice instead. But I stuck to my usual minimalistic attitude and made it with just egg whites and granulated sugar. And a drop of red food colouring.
These crisp little hearts will surely impress your sweetheart ! And its a great way to use up leftover egg whites!
You’ ll need:
- 2 egg whites , at room temperature
- 100 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- gel food colouring (optional)
Makes: 30-35 meringue cookies ( 2-3 cm in size)
Time : 25 mins prep + 1 hour baking time + 1 hour cooling time.
Lets get started:
Line your cookie sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 100 C/ 225 F . Get your piping bag and tip ready.
Take the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof (glass/metal) bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Place it over a saucepan with a little water to form a double boiler. The water in the pan should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Heat at low while whisking continuously. Heat until it gets white , thick and frothy. When will feel it between your fingers , you will not feel any sugar granules. This takes only a few minutes.
Take the bowl off the sauce pan and heat . Using a whisk / hand or stand mixer , beat at highest speed until firm or stiff peaks .This can take upto 15 minutes depending on your mixer . When you lift your beaters out , it should hold upright shiny peaks , and when you turn the bowl over, the whites will not fall!
Add the food colouring if using and beat in until incorporated evenly. Add only a little at first , and add more if you want a deeper colour.
Fill into piping bag fitted with a star tip . I used a star tip , but you can use a round tip also. Or just snip the end of the piping bag/ ziplock bag. Or use two spoons to dump spoonfuls . Fill and pipe as soon as your batter is ready. The more it rests , the more it deflates.
Pipe onto the parchment paper. Press and release for simple meringues . For heart shaped , just pipe two inverted comma shapes with the ends joining ( Try a couple and you ‘ ll get the hang of it!). Or you can also draw heart outlines on the parchment paper , turn over and fill the outlines .
Bake at 100/ 220 F C for 1 hour . When you lift the meringues , they should come off the parchment cleanly and easily. If they are sticky , bake for few more minutes and check. Cool in the oven for one hour.
- Use parchment paper to avoid meringue sticking.
- For getting the most volume from your eggs : Separate when cold and get whites to room temperature. Make sure there if no yolk at all . Clean your bowl and beaters/ whisk so they are absolutely grease free. You can rub some lemon juice on them for added insurance!
- Store in an airtight container for few days.
- You can add 2-3 tbsp of fruit puree / seedless jam for flavoured meringue. Add after the egg white-sugar is mixed like the food colour.
- Do not open the oven door during baking time.
- You can make any quantity of meringue using 1/4 cup or 50 grams of sugar for each egg white you use.
These are great meringues. Light , airy , melt-in-your mouth texture . Crisp shells with a chewy centre . And delicately pretty to look at ! Don’t you think ?