Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eggstra Egg White Use #1: Meringues

The first recipe I found was for meringues. I love meringues. They are so light and airy. Plus they are sweet treats and not a lot of calories. After all, they are sugar, egg whites, cream of tarter (or sometimes vinegar) and vanilla or some other extract. As my friend Mary would say, "They are like eating air." [Technically she uses this phrase to describe eating water chestnuts, but I feel it applies here too. Albeit meringues are like eating sweetened air]

I made my first batch after the Cinnamon Honey ice cream. Since the occasion was my Dad's birthday, I decided to make pecan meringues. After all, his favorite pie is pecan so I figured this would be a good alternative.

One thing you should know before I go on about these recipes involving egg whites. Oil and egg whites (especially egg whites that have been beat into soft or stiff peaks) are not friends. Be sure to have very clean oil-free hands, bowls and mixing equipment.

Pecan Meringue Cookies
(Source: Simply Recipes)
1 cup whole pecans (preferably lightly roasted - 8-10 min at 250°F)
3 egg whites
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place pecans in zipper baggie and beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Set aside.

Put egg whites into a stand-up mixer bowl. Add salt. Start the mixer speed on low, 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 speed to high and whip the egg whites until they fluff up and become glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan pieces. [Fold those pecans in! Do not think you should use the mixer to re-fluff the meringue. If you do, you'll end up with soup. Take it from me. I was on the phone when I added the pecans. By the time I got to dropping the meringue onto cookie sheets, I thought the meringue could use a bit more mixing. I was wrong. Remember my foreword: Meringue ≠ Oil, even the oil from pecans.]
Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silpat.

Put the cookies sheet 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 marshmallowy or chewy on the inside in the morning, just let them dry out for a few more hours. [I have made meringue before, but this was great. Overnight in the oven allowed the meringues to dry completely!]

Makes 12-24 cookies, depending on the size.
{My version made more than the expected 12-24 each}
{The final product was yummy. Destination: My Parent's House}

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