Introduction: Peppermint Meringue Kisses

About: I love to spend time in the kitchen to relax and feed those I love with great eats and treats.

These are delightful minty little cookies that melt in your mouth, with slight crunch from mini chocolate chips. Easy to make, bite sized, perfect for serving a crowd, and, not just for the holidays.

This recipe is based of a Cook's Country Christmas Meringue Cookie, but I've also made them for Valentine's Day, and Ohio State University football games. If you want something festive, I show how to add colored stripes to them. The stripes can resemble candy canes, or, choose your favorite team colors, wedding colors, baby shower colors, etc. and enjoy these tasty treats year round.

Since they last a week they make fantastic gifts, package in a tin, add a bow, voila! Or, gift in treat bags as shower, wedding, or party favors.

Whether you keep them plain, or color them, I hope you'll make these fun treats soon, enjoy!

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies, recipe adapted from Cook's Country Magazine, Dec/Jan 2006

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

You'll need:

2 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini milk chocolate chips)
3 tablespoons crushed peppermint candies (I used mini candy canes, but round peppermint candies are available anytime.)

Optional colored stripes:
Piping bag
Small paintbrush
Gel based food coloring

Step 2: Prepare Meringue Batter

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 275 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

With electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until mixture is glossy and stiff, about 2 minutes. With spatula, fold in chocolate chips and peppermint candies.

Step 3: Prepare Piping Bag

Optional, this creates fun stripes on the meringues.

Fit a piping bag with the plain tip. Fold the bag a couple inches down from the top making a cover that your hand can fit into, making it easier to fill the bag without getting batter everywhere. Using gel based food coloring of your choice, and a small paintbrush, paint two lines opposite each other down the length of the bag. Try to make the lines straight and all the way down to the tip. Because piping bags are malleable, it's a bit tough to get perfect stripes, but they'll turn out ok!

When filling the piping bag, try not to disturb the stripes too much, just gently push the batter downwards.

Step 4: Pipe Meringues

Pipe, or dollop teaspoon-sized dots of batter, onto prepared baking sheets. (As you can see from the baking sheet on the right, the stripes' color fades slightly while piping, if you want more vibrant colors, I'd be more generous when painting the stripes.) Try to work fairly quickly, the meringues will deflate if left too long without baking. Also, aim for uniform sizes so they bake evenly, I'm not a piping pro, but I did my best. If you put the piping bag close to the pan, squeeze as you lift up, you want these small so don't squeeze too much batter out, stop squeezing and move on. And, any truly imperfect cookies can become samples/cooks treats!

Bake until cookies begin to crack and are light gold, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating rack position and direction of baking sheets halfway through baking time. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, will keep at least a week.

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