Suzi's Blog

Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses

IMG_1686What? Another meringue cookie recipe?

You bet. Because this one is, I am confident, the definitive recipe.

Single ingredient cookbooks charm me. That’s a lot of pages for one thing. Yet if that thing is vanilla, how can you be wrong. Pure Vanilla is a distinguished new cookbook by Shauna Sever, who authored that yummy Marshmallow Madness book last year.

This book is about our favorite flavor. Yes, more vanilla is consumed that chocolate. I don’t think that is right or moral or ethical, but it’s life. So, I have decided to be flexible. I checked out the book, I read the recipes, and I recommend Pure Vanilla to you all.

The issue with meringue cookies has been how to get them right. Not over or under cooked. Not dry to the point of being desiccated. Not still to moist so they become goo in your mouth. How to stay white?

It comes down to ingredients, baking temperature, and baking time. For the ingredients, the mix here is interesting. You used equal parts of regular granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar. Why? You need some cornstarch from the confectioners’ sugar, but too much. Here the proportions are golden.

What is not golden are the cookies. By cooking at a low 200⁰ you get lovely white cookies. It’s as simple as that.

I put chocolate chips in because I am a hypocrite and an addict. You don’t need them, but I must say with this balance of sugars, milk chocolate chips are fine. You could add nuts, too, or just nuts and no chocolate. But that would be, in my opinion, nuts.

 

Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses

Yield: 48 1 ½ inch cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Caviar of ½ vanilla bean
  • 1-2 bags of chocolate chips [semi-sweet or milk]

Preparation:

Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200⁰. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium-high speed, until very foamy and just barely holding shape, about 2 minutes.

Sift the sugars together into a small bowl and then gradually add the sugars to the egg-white mixture, continuing to beat until the batter hold firm peaks, about 3 minutes more. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for 1 final minute, adding vanilla extract the vanilla bean caviar.

Optionally, fold in the chocolate chips.

If not using the chips, transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip. If you are using chips, then you’ll just put down rounded tablespoons of batter.

Pipe the meringues about 1 ½ inches in diameter on prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Bake until the meringues are firm and crisp, about 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven.

Now I simply leave the meringues in the oven overnight. I’ve started baking at 9PM. Author Shauna Sever says to leave the oven door now slightly open and let the meringues cool in that oven for about 1 hour. I don’t think there’s a great difference. I will say that leaving them in the overnight leaves them crunchy with absolutely none of that meringue softness that can suddenly turn to goo and clot up on your teeth.

Source: Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever

 

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Coconut Joys

Editted 2013_02_03_0483

 

I have a new proof for the existence of God. It would take such superior designer to come up [and conceal] two very distinct but two very complex nut foods. Foods that are encased so deeply you cannot believe how people ever figured out to use them.

There is coconut, of course. And then there are the cacao pods which are transformed into chocolate only through a series of steps that impossible to have ever been devised. But thanks, perhaps to a gracious God, they were revealed. There are no chocolate atheists.

The combination of coconut and chocolate can be sublime. What better vehicle to transport those flavors to you than a perfect French meringue. I do mean perfect.

As soon as Suzen saw the title, Coconut Joys, she was onto this recipe. Surprisingly, I was entrusted with making them. And this only because in the brilliant new book Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner there is the technique for perfect meringues.

You’ll want to use very, very fresh coconut flavor here. So, that half-used package of coconut from last spring that is sitting on your shelf? Use it for the photo. That’s what I did.

Instead of using full-sized chocolate chips, the use of mini-chips here reinforces the daintiness of the cookies.

These are easy to make — 15 minutes. And long to bake — 3 ½ hours in your oven. It’s a weekend treat. One you could use, say, to teach your children to be patient. [Or yourself.]

One thing about meringues. If it is raining out, don’t even think about it. Humidity is the mortal enemy of meringue, so wait for sunshine.

Coconut Joys

Yield: about 40 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped almonds, optional

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200°F. [Yes, 200°F]

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar, increasing speed to medium-high until soft peaks form. Add superfine sugar and then powdered sugar, about a tablespoon at a time. With a rubber spatula, very gently scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl because the powdered sugar is so lightweight it will fly up and stick to the sides of the bowl. Continue beating on high until peaks are stiff and glossy. Reduce to low and add vanilla, coconut, chocolate chips, and almonds; beat until combined.

Drop by well-rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 90 minutes. Turn oven off and cool meringues in closed oven for 2 hours or until dry to the touch.

Cool completely before removing from baking sheets. Store in an airtight container.

 

Source: Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner