Here is entry 3 of 4, although it deserves to be #1 in my eyes! When I posted the pictures for these a week ago on Facebook (ya ya…) one of my old childhood friends mentioned that her mom used to buy these from a bakery and bring them home, and she loved them. This reminded me of how my mum used to actually do the same thing, and it brought back so many nice memories. 🙂 A more recent memory of these light puff cookies, is going to the Patty King in Kensington Market (located in Toronto). Among the many tasty foods there (oh the Jamaican Doubles, *drool*), the meringue puffs never cease to amaze my taste buds! Now, I don’t have an electric mixer at home (not sure why, you’d think I’d have something like that!), so I used a balloon whisk. I will say, that although you get amazing results by doing this by hand, it will take TWICE the amount of whisking time (and a tired arm) to get the same results that you would get with a hand-held electric mixer. So prepare yourself! Stretch out your wrist, do some push-ups, whatever you need to do to get your arm good and ready! Or, just use an electric mixer. Either way. 😉
Here is my recipe for some amazing meringue puffs! I’ve used two flavours, plain/vanilla AND chocolate mint. You can also add any other flavoured extracts, but go easy on the liquids otherwise they won’t rise properly when baking. Note: These puffs also taste great when made simple with egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Flavour isn’t necessary, as they’re so light and sweet. BUT, adding flavour to them is fun! For something different, add in some crushed chocolate chips… Enjoy! 🙂
This recipe makes anywhere from 6 to 15 puffs, depending on the size!
Meringue Puffs (Vanilla and Chocolate Mint)
- 2 egg whites at room temperature
- dash cream of tartar (1 ml) (GREAT as a stabilizer for egg whites, without any undesirable flavour. This stuff is a must-have item in the kitchen for any baker!)
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have superfine, you can use regular white granulated sugar, but it will take longer for the sugar to dissolve in the meringue. I suggest using a clean coffee grinder to “grind” the granulated sugar in order to make it finer.) Alternatively, you can use Splenda to taste if you can’t use sugar.
- optional: dash of vanilla extract OR dash of vanilla sugar
- for chocolate mint meringues: whole batch, add about 1 tbsp cocoa powder and dash of peppermint extract. Half batch, add about 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder and 2-3 drops of peppermint extract.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Separate the egg yolk from the white while it is still cold, as it will be easier.
- Before you begin, ensure the egg whites have been brought to room temperature at least 15 minutes prior to starting.
- Pre heat your oven to 250 F. You need your oven to reach this higher temperature prior to cooking the meringues so that the outside of each meringue can attain that desirable texture that makes them so tasty. The oven temperature should not be lowered until the moment before you put them in to bake.
- In a clean glass bowl (you can use stainless steel or copper also, however it is advisable to not use plastic as plastic bowls hold on to any grease or moisture that they have come in contact with. Moisture and grease are the two enemies of meringue puffs!), mix together the cream of tartar with the egg whites.
- Start off whisking slowly, then gradually increase speed. If you are using a balloon whisk, it will take you about 10-15 minutes to get soft peaks. (This is when you lift the whisk out of the mixture, and the meringue peaks up slightly, but falls back down.)
- Tip: hold the balloon whisk as if it were a pencil, and whisk from the wrist. This will make it much easier on your arm. Also, whisk in an upward motion starting from the side of the bowl furthest away from you, and working towards yourself. If using an electric mixer, beat the whites at a low-speed, then increase to a medium speed until soft peaks form.
- When you are getting soft peaks, gradually add the sugar under each whisking motion (add the sugar under the meringue, and whisk upwards towards you). Doing this will prevent the meringue from flattening out. You do not need to whisk any slower while adding the sugar.
- After you have added all of the sugar, whisk a little bit longer until stiff peaks form.
- Add the flavoured extract you are using (vanilla or mint, depending on which batch you are using), and if you are doing chocolate meringues, this is also when you add the cocoa powder. (If making two batches at once with different flavours, transfer half of the batch to a new bowl to add in the second flavour.) Whisk lightly to mix the flavours in, but be careful not to over mix once you are getting stiff peaks as this will cause the meringues to not rise properly. You must whisk until all of the sugar is dissolved. To check the sugar, simply pinch some meringue between your thumb and index finger to ensure you cannot feel any granules of sugar.
- For a “blob” shape of meringue, you can use a spoon to scoop out meringue onto the lined baking sheet. For my “blob” batch, I used about 2 tbsp of meringue per puff. Space each meringue about 1/4 inch apart.
- For a pretty shape of meringue, you can use a pastry bag with a coupler and a tip (or a plastic sandwich bag with a hole cut in it if you don’t have a cake decorating set 😉 ), and fill the bag with meringue to pipe it onto the lined cookie sheet. (Open the bag over one hand, fold the edges of the top of the bag over your hand, use your free hand to scoop the meringue inside, twist the top of the bag closed, and you’re good to go!) For my piped batch, I made little spiral puffs, and little stick shaped puffs.
- Now, turn down the heat of the oven to 195 F. (The higher heat prior to insertion is required so that the oven retains enough heat to give that light “crispyness” to the outside of the meringues.)
- Place the lined cookie sheet in the middle rack of the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Check the meringues at 1 hour to make sure they are not burnt. They are done when you tap the bottom/side of the meringue, and it sounds hollow and has set. If any meringue comes off onto your finger, they are not done. For larger meringues, I’ve had to leave them in for the full 1 1/2 hours, and the result was a crispy and light meringue puff with a slightly soft center (mmmmm!). For smaller meringues, 1 1/2 hours will give you a light and crispy puff all the way through. If you want the insides of the small meringues to be somewhat gooey, while the outside is crispy, simply keep the baking time to 1 hour for a small meringue.
- After the time is up, DO NOT remove the meringues from the oven. Turn off the oven, and keep the meringues inside for 3-4 hours (3 hours for a softer center, 4 hours for a firm center). This will allow the meringues to set properly without being over baked.
- After the 4 hours is up, remove the meringues from the oven, and allow to cool at room temperature before eating. (I couldn’t wait, so I ate some of them fresh out of the oven… They were a bit soft when doing this, but oh-so-good!!!)
- These can be stored at room temperature for a few days to a week. They’ll be eaten before that though… 😉