Santa Ana winds and dry air is not a news worthy event, except serving as a reminder for me to take my allergy meds. Nevertheless, I was overjoyed at this weather pattern as of late. Surely you must be wondering what on earth this has to do with food. Let’s get to it.
I love meringues, the completely crispy and light as air type. Only thing is, they need a very dry environment as moisture of any kind is the enemy of meringues. The absolute devil. I had to take advantage of this dry day before the weather went back to its normal humidity and make a batch of meringue cookies. They are easy and quick to put together, but do take a long time to dry out in the oven. With a little patience and almost half a day you will be enjoying these lettle gems which are crisp and crunchy through and through, with no trace of wet or sticky insides here. An absolute delight.
glossy meringue with a stiff peak that holds its shape
piped and ready for the oven
Meringue Cookies (Pistachio & Vanilla)
Yield: 60- 70 kisses, approximately 1 ½” wide
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup superfine sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
4 egg whites, room temperature*
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Purple gel food color
Small brush with fine tip
¼ teaspoon pistachio extract
Green gel food color
Small brush with fine tip
2 disposable piping bags
* It is best to “age” the whites by leaving them partially covered on the countertop in a cool room overnight. This will let some of the moisture evaporate and help with obtaining a more voluminous meringue.
Prepare the piping bags:
Load two disposable piping bags fitted with large start tips (Ateco #8 or similar). Working with one color at a time, paint stripes using the gel color beginning on the inside of the bag as far down toward the tip as you can reach and up to ¾ of the way up the bag. Make as many stripes as you desire.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust two oven racks to the top and bottom third of the oven.
Sift together the powdered sugar, superfine sugar and salt in a medium size bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. With the whip attachment, begin beating the whites on medium setting until they become foamy (like bubble bath). Slowly add the powdered sugar mixture and increase the speed to high. Continue whipping until the whites become very glossy and stiff peaks form. Test the meringue by removing the whip and inverting it so that the meringue tip points upward. It should hold a peak. If not, continue whipping until stiff.
Separate the meringue into two medium size bowls and add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract into one bowl of meringue and ¼ teaspoon pistachio extract into the other bowl. Mix gently with a rubber spatula to incorporate the extract. Place into prepared piping bags and begin piping, leaving a finger width between each kiss.
Bake for 3-4 hours until meringue is crisp and not sticky. I test them by feel as well as gently lifting up from the parchment. If they lift without too much coaxing and the bottoms release fairly easily, they are almost ready. At this point, turn the oven off and close the door. Let meringues cool in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from the oven, let come to room temperature and immediately enjoy or store in an airtight container.