A great, easy to make little “cookie” that is totally gluten-, dairy-, and fat-free, meringue kisses should definitely be in your baking repertoire for when you need a pretty, classy little hostess gift that looks a lot more challenging to make than it is. The hardest thing about these little cuties is activating your patience; these take some time to bake and then dry out completely.
Granted, there are a few finicky things about making these cookies that should be discussed; for one, they don’t react well to humidity; the cold and dry air in Canada during winter is a perfect time to make meringues, hence, Christmas cookies! Secondly, they really don’t like fat. Any fat. Meringues are extremely anti-fat (how rude), in that if there is even a smidgen of oil left behind in a washed mixing bowl or beaters, the egg whites will not whip properly. So make sure your mixing bowl and whisk (whether you’re using a table stand mixer or a hand held mixer) are scrupulously clean and dry before starting, or you won’t get far.
Lastly it’s recommended that you use a few pieces of equipment/ingredients for best results (piping bag and tip, parchment paper, food colouring, cream of tartar and a stand mixer), but I think you can get around most of those…though I stand firm on the parchment paper…with some more frugal options. I for one, piped these through a freezer bag, as I couldn’t find any piping bags in my newly-organized pantry (oops). I did use a large open star tip to get this design, but if you’re looking for simpler teardrop shapes, then piping it through a smallish opening in your piping bag is fine.
As per the photos, I used red food colouring I have on hand (I sparingly “painted” stripes on the inside of the piping bag with it before adding the meringue), but it’s not necessary; if you don’t want the candy cane look, pure white is also very pretty and classic. I also used cream of tartar (available in most grocery store baking aisles), as it helps set up and stiffen the meringues in preparation of baking them off, but it’s not strictly necessary. If not using it I’d suggest you put a hustle in your bustle and pipe them very quickly to get them into your oven before they start to slump.
My last suggestion is to not be like me…do not double the recipe. You may think that the small amount of ingredients won’t make enough meringue kisses for it to matter, but this recipe as-is makes about 80 cookies, and it does NOT sit well; once the meringues have had their hour in the slow oven, you are then going to turn off the oven and let them continue to dry out in the oven with the door closed for another two hours. Having more than one oven’s worth of trays gets complicated and lengthy. My second batch was not nearly as pretty as my first, as they had slumped significantly while awaiting time in the oven. Lesson learned: don’t be me. 😦
Candy Cane Meringue Kisses
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- ½ tsp/1.5g cream of tartar
- ⅛ tsp/0.75g salt
- 1 cup/200g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp/5mL vanilla extract or other extract (if using candy oils, use sparingly as they are very concentrated)
- Preheat oven to 225°F/105°C and line two of your largest cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large, completely clean and grease-free bowl. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, stir on low speed until mixture becomes foamy.
- Once foamy, increase speed to high. Gradually add sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until sugar is dissolved (about 15-20 seconds between each addition).
- Beat until mixture is thick, shiny, and has increased in volume. Mixture should have stiff peaks and sugar should be completely dissolved.
- Gently stir in vanilla extract and/or any other extract you may like to use. If tinting the meringue directly, add the food colouring at this stage.
- Fit a large disposable piping bag or freezer bag with a large round or star tip; if wanting to “stripe” meringues, use a small brush to paint the inside of the pastry bag with food colouring.
- Carefully transfer meringue to prepared piping bag (trying not to dislodge the stripes of food colouring), and pipe meringues onto prepared cookie sheet. They can be piped in close proximity to one another as they will not spread, and as mentioned above you will want to bake them all off at the same time.
- Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven once the baking time has passed but leave the trays inside and do not open the oven door. Allow cookies to cool completely in the oven for 1-2 hours before removing.
- Meringue cookies should be crisp, light and airy; store in an airtight container or bags. Keep away from heat and moisture as it will soften your meringues.