Intro: Meringue Kisses
In this instructable, I will detail the art of the meringue kiss. This is a simple recipe, inexpensive to make, and yields a light, crispy cookie that won't make you feel guilty. The most important thing you will need is time, as these cookies will need to bake for three hours. If you expect to make them very pretty, you will also need far more patience and skill than I will demonstrate here.
I neglected to take a picture of the finished process, as I was too busy scalding the roof of my mouth eating hot cookies. I will attempt to address this failure in the near future.
Step 1: Assemble Your Tools and Ingredients
Here is what you need:
3 room temperature egg whites (see step 2)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon imitation almond extract
Standard hand mixer
star tip ( I couldn't find my star tip, so I used some funky grass tip thing. This is where you will make a decision as to how purty you want your cookies to look).
Step 2: Seperate the Whites From the Yolks
Seperate the whites of the egg into an obsessively cleaned bowl. Having a very clean bowl is important, I am told, as any detrius in the bowl will adversely affect the ability of the meringue to form a stiff peak. I have never tested this.
To seperate the whites, simply break the egg right into your hand, and allow the whites to slip through your fingers into the bowl. Take your time- if you get any yolk mixed in with the whites, you will have to begin anew.
Step 3: Beat the Egg Whites to a Foam
Once you have all three egg whites in the bowl, beat them until foamy. Add the cream of tartar while as it is beating.
Fun Fact: Cream of tartar, that most mysterious of ingredients, is actually only added to stabilize the egg whites, allowing them to beat more stiffly. Where does cream of tartar come from? It is the acid that is crystalizes on vats of grape juice as it ferments into wine (that's the short version).
Step 4: Continue to Beat on High, Add Sugar, and Watch It Begin to Peak
Continue to beat the whites on high, and slowly add the sugar once the whites begin to peak. When I say peak, I mean that if you were to turn the mixer off and remove it, it would leave little mountainous peaks. You want to beat the whites to "stiff peaks" meaning that the peaks do not sag after they are formed.
Step 5: Fill Pastry Bag With Meringue
Using your large pastry bag, and whatever tip makes you happy, prepare to pipe the meringue on the baking sheet. The best way I know to describe it is to pull the pastry bag down over your hand, then "make an ice cream cone" by packing the meringue onto your fist (see pictures). Once you have enough filling in the bag, pull the bag back up over your hand, and twist. You will have some air in the bag. Give it a hearty squeeze into the bowl to get the bubbles out. Now you are ready to pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet.
Step 6: Pipe the Little Fellers Onto the Baking Sheet
With short, steady squeezes, pipe your meringue into cookie shaped lovelies on your baking sheet, which you have thoughtfully sheeted with baking parchment beforehand. These cookies do not expand or lay out, so you don't have to put them very far apart. I can squeeze as many as 40 onto a standard cookie sheet, but I also make them pretty small (a little smaller than a quarter). And how truly bizzare did the perspective on this picture come out?
Step 7: Bake at 200 Degrees for Three Hours
Yes that's right - three hours. The idea is to completely dry them out, leaving you with an airy, melt in your mouth confection that looks like styrofoam but tastes delicious.