I am a fan of meringue cookies, with fond remembrance of “Surprise Cookies” from my childhood. Mounds of meringue, colored yellow or green or red, and filled with chocolate chips. Fresh from the oven, the meringue was sugar heaven encasing those warm, gooey chips.
Thing is, I have difficulty baking meringue cookies. One solution, posted here earlier, involves using corn starch to achieve a rich meringue that bakes well. But I have always had the problem of achieving a perfect white meringue: mine always tended to be a bit brown on the tips, if not brown all over. And, of course, I used regular vanilla which converted the original white meringue into an off-off-white color at best.
I had remembered something about using vinegar, too. But I did not have a recipe and I was not sure what to do.
Thanks to the web, my solution has arrived. From simplyrecipes.com, comes this very strong meringue recipe. No vanilla, but there is that vinegar added at the end. The oven is low, at 300°F, and then is turned off as soon as the cookies are put in. You let them “rest and dry” for hours, and the result is a meringue that is soft, but not chewy and not hard. I made these on a very humid day, but had no problem.
The flavoring here is nuts, pecans specifically, and prepared the way suggested — literally smashed into tiny pieces — the entire cookie is aromatic with flavor. Out of the oven, you just start to eat, bouncing the hot cookie from one side of your mouth to the other as you inhale that gentle pecan scent.
The recipe and the photo come from simplyrecipes.com, a site with an abundance of recipes for you to enjoy.
Two notes. First, for those of you with celiac disease, here’s a great cookie with no wheat. Second, that vinegar at the end? Its addition lets you beat longer and create a very dense meringue, one that I could not achieve with just a pinch of salt alone or with cream of tartar. The meringue here is thicker than the ones I achieved with corn starch. This is my “meringue of preference” going forward.
Pecan Meringue Cookies
Yield: 30 cookies
- 1 cup whole pecans (preferably lightly roasted for 8-10 minutes at 250°F)
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Place the pecans in a zippy bag and beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. [I banged the bag on a marble surface to achieve more of a pecan dust]. Set aside.
Put the egg white into a standup mixer bowl. Add the salt. Start the mixer on low speed, gradually increasing the speed until soft peaks start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase the speed to medium-high, and slowly add the sugar to the egg whites. Continue to whip the eggs and sugar for a few minutes. Then add the vinegar to the bowl. Increase the speed to high and whip the egg whites until they fluff up and become glossy, and stiff peak form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan pieces. Drop by rounded tablespoons on to a cooked sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or Silpat. [You will fill a full sheet pan here or two half sheet pans.]
Put the cookies in the 300°F oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Leave them in the oven overnight. In the morning they should be ready —crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside. If they are a little marshmallow or chewing on the inside in the morning, just them dry our for a few more hours.