Gingerbread cookies, fudge, and peanut brittle are great, but chances are you'll get plenty this Christmas season. Why not make something differnet - and pretty easy and yummy - instead? These Peppermint Meringue Cookies might just be the thing.
Cute, tiny, sweet, crunchy yet chewy if slightly underdone, they can be a great addition to your holiday plans!
I made this recipe by adding to the Wilton meringue recipe.
Step 1: What You Need
And, as all baking seems to require it, here is the list of things you need:
1 Tablespoon of Meringue powder (I like Meringue powder because it's so super easy to use. Also, if you're afraid of raw eggs you don't have to worry about slightly undercooking the cookies)
1/4 cup of water
6 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Candy Canes (You could use peppermint extract if you wish, but I think the texture would be different)
1 Pinch Salt
Red Food Dye (not sure how it would work with liquid dye, I use some for cake decorating that's like a gel. And I suppose it's optional, but it really makes them cute)
Step 2: Crush the Candy Canes
The very sight and taste of Candy Canes says "Christmas". But they need to be crushed to fit into the cookies. So unwrap them, break them up a tad and put them in a bowl. I find that crushing them by covering them with some plastic wrap that has been folded over itself a bit helps so your pieces don't go everywhere. Then just smash with anything that has some weight behind it. Make sure you get the pieces rather small, because you don't want to clog up your pastry bag when piping later.
Step 3: Beat Meringue
Add the water and meringue powder. Whisk (or if you have a hand or stand mixer, use that for sure. Also, I should have used a smaller bowl, but I didn't. It's easier if it's smaller.) At first it will look like a layer of milk, and then slowly it will turn into foam (You can see the progression in the pictures). Whisk until thick and it kinda holds a peak on the whisk, as shown.
Step 4: Sugar and Salt
Now you can add the salt. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking away all the while. Soon it should become glossy and make nice tall peaks on your whisk if you lift it straight out of the bowl.
Step 5: Stir in Peppermints
Switch from the whisk to a spoon, and fold in the crushed peppermints. Try not to overwork it too much, so that you have little red specks in your meringues. Otherwise it will just make it pink, but that's all right. (There's decorating later anyway)
Step 6: Prepare for Baking
Grease a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a piping bag and fold over about two or three inches of the top (this helps when filling it later). Use a butter knife to get some of the red pastry dye. Make a few lines near the tip of the bag. I tend to not be very tidy about it, as you will notice from the picture, but even if yours looks as incorrect as mine, you'll notice it turns out later in the piping. Then spoon in your meringue.
Step 7: The Proper Folding of a Pastry Bag
Let's take a quick break and talk about the proper way to fold a pastry bag. If you just twist or scrunch it up, you can end up with the meringue all over yours hands and not on the cookie sheet. Flatten out the top as much as you can. It should be noted that overfilling the bag will make a mess, and it's easier to fill the bag twice than try to use an overfull bag. If you fold over the edge like told in the previous step it helps to make sure you don't.
So now fold in the two corners of the bag, making a point. Then fold this down, and down once again. You now have a nicely sealed edge. As you pipe you can just continue folding down that top edge, and it will make the piping easier as you go along.
Step 8: Pipe and Bake
Use a knife or scissors to cut off the tip. Pipe holding the bag straight up and down, and when you've made them a desirable size stop piping and pull the bag straight up. The ones in the picture are a little too close together, but I had to try fitting it all on one sheet anyway. Aren't they all pretty? You can see how the red dye makes up look like mints and hints at what they taste like. (If you look really closely you can see that the dye is stronger in the beginning than at the end, but it still works and gives you a little variety.)
Oh, and if you have an issue and the meringue stops coming out, there's probably a piece of peppermint that got stuck in the tip of the bag. I find that usually I can take a knife and pull it out.
Step 9: What You DONT Want
To cook them to high or to long. Burnt peppermint doesn't taste very good. Also, they'll be flat and lifeless. You don't want any brown on them. (And I obviously burnt that batch just to show you how terrible it would be. Obviously *cough* Thankfully I had made a previous batch for Christmas trays. Maybe next time I'll double check the temperature.) They didn't taste right and we threw them out
Step 10: What You Do Want
Nice, crunchy on the outside yet slightly chewy on the inside, little bites of peppermint goodness. (And by the way, if you don't want to make cookies, you can make little cups and fill them with mousse or something right before you serve them, but they'll get mush if you fill them before.) They're cute little additions to a cookie tray for a swap.
By the way, meringues are best cooked on a non-rainy day, or else they get little specks on the top (in the pictures you can kinda see it. Still tasty though)
I hope you enjoy!