Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Almond Meringues

So last weekend on our trip to Portland I made up a "New Home/Housewarming" gift and a "Going away/Good Luck" present for our two couple friends down there. They didn't end up looking as cute as I wanted them to, (that's what happens when you think of these things last minute. And that's why there's no picture) but I thought the idea was still pretty cute. In a basket I put 3 different bundles. The first one with a tag that read, "For nights when you feel poor" and there was 2 packs of Top Ramen Noodles and a pack of Jello. The two cheapest things you can possibly buy at the store. The second bundle had a tag that read, "For nights when you feel rich" and there was a package of yummy gnocchi pasta, creamy red sauce and salted caramel chocolates. Then on the third bundle the tag read, "For nights when you don't care which" and there was a bottle of wine and my delicious home made Almond Meringues. You can also make them in vanilla and chocolate (both delicious) but I had never done almond before so I wanted to try it this way.

3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt or Cream of tartar
3/4 Cup Superfine baking sugar
A stand up mixer with whisk attachment (aka the Kitchen Aid)
Almond extract (Or vanilla or cocoa powder)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. You will want to have a stand up mixer for this, because there is a lot of mixing. And you can just walk away from it while it mixes of you have one. Make sure the mixing bowl and whisk attachment are super clean and dry. Line a rimmed or jelly roll cookie sheet with parchment paper. Take 3 eggs out of the fridge and separate them from the yolks while they are COLD, (they cannot have any bits of yolk in there, it will keep the meringue from fluffing up) then leave them out in a bowl for about a half hour so that they can come to room temperature. If you separate them while they are cold, they separate easier. And you want them to be room temp, so that they fluff up really well. First beat the whites so that they get a little frothy, about 40 seconds. Then add a pinch of cream of tarter or a pinch of salt. Beat until you get soft peaks, 1-2 minutes. It will be fluffy, but it will not stand up on its own. Then add 3/4 cup of the superfine/caster's sugar a little bit at a time. Wait until the sugar is incorporated each time before you add more. Beat until you get stiff peaks. This means the meringue/egg whites will retain their shape when you make a peak with your spatula. This is a good video to watch to see what this means. Here you can either leave them as they are, or add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or vanilla or cocoa powder). From here I usually use my pastry bag and star tip so that they come out really fancy. But you can just use two spoons and put about a 2 tablespoon size dollop on the cookie sheet and they cook just as well that way. Bake for 1 hour. Then turn oven off and leave in the oven for a few hours or overnight. They will get extra crisp this way. If you have 2 batches (which sometimes you do depending on how big you made the meringues) you can bake them both separately, then put them both in the turned off oven together when they are both done. But just bake one sheet at a time. They should end up being crispy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside, but not golden brown. You want them to still be white-ish. In the video above, she has a good tip, "If you can pull the meringues right off easily, then they are done".
Makes about 24-30 meringues. Enjoy! And be careful...its VERY easy to eat them all in a double batches are sometimes necessary. Just double up the measurements if you want extra. :)
Light, fluffy, crisp and to die for!

I packaged them using leftover mason jars from Peanut's party.
Then if you are making them for a friend, (like I was) you can package them up all pretty in a mason jar like I did here or in a to-go box with some pretty ribbon or bakers twine.

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