Friday, March 26, 2010

Mysterious Meringues

The mystery of meringues kicks off my very first blog post. Simple ingredients form this funny little cookie. I'm a lover of cookies and baking. But meringues are a mystery to me. Are they really a cookie? No butter. No flour. No baking soda. Just egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla. I was in a baking mood last Sunday and I asked Hubby what he thought I should make. I said what about oatmeal cookies? Cause I know he's a fan. He said what about those things that are little, you know, fluffy...things. His description was accompanied by some hand gestures inferring a small round object. Like most cookies. Small round objects. But after 11 years together I was able to decipher his request. "You mean meringues?". Ya, sure, he says. He proceeded to tell me how he made them once in a high school home ec class and he thought they were pretty cool.

I have never made meringues before. I have never made meringue before. But I dug out my Cookies cookbook by Martha Stewart and found a few meringue options. I was a little intimidated by the recipe. Sometimes fewer ingredients equals greater complexity. I had all the ingredients on hand so I gave it a go. I followed the recipe to the letter because I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn't sure how stiff the peaks should be or what the texture should look like. I have seen lots of cooking shows that instruct the stiff white peaks should slump over a bit when turned upside down. When the fluff looked nice and fluffed I dipped in my rubber spatula to test my peaks. They looked like I thought they should. The fluff had a slight gloss to the texture. I wasn't sure if that was how it was supposed to look or not. But the peaks looked right so I went with it.

I put half the batch in a large ziploc bag and snipped off the corner. I made an attempt to pipe out uniform swirls of vanilla meringue on my baking sheet. I stirred in 1/8 cup of cocoa powder into the remaining half and filled another bag. The recipe suggested a 1/2 inch star tip. But my ziploc bag would have to do. To be honest the chocolate batch looked like little dog doodies. But the doodies were for me, so it was ok. Hubby is vanilla. I am chocolate.

The recipe said 175 degree oven for 2 hours. 2 hours in, we did a taste test. Crisp and airy on the outside...chewy on the inside. Is that right? It didn't seem right. Hubby agreed. Back in the oven. 2 additional hours later, I deemed the cookies done. Mostly because I was annoyed at how long they were taking. Seems like I could have cooked them forever and they would be totally fine. The end product was a tasty, crisp, yet airy treat. It was a nice departure from the traditional cookie.

I wouldn't say the meringue mystery has been solved. But it's ceratinly a little less elusive.

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