I went to a pot luck at my co-workers house this past weekend for a festive holiday gathering. I wanted to bring gingerbread cookies, but one of the staff members is allergic to gluten. Gingerbread is a classic and I didn’t want to leave those cookies out of the mix, so I decided to make meringues as well 🙂 They’re gluten friendly plus this was an opportunity to try out another recipe from Tea Time Treats at home.
The recipe we were given for meringues included dark chocolate as an add in, but I didn’t have any extra dark chocolate after my hot chocolate project (part I) was finished. I wasn’t in the mood to throw more money at chocolate, so I decided to pick up some candy canes instead 🙂
I pulsed by candy canes in a magic bullet a few times and they were much more finely ground than I intended. I wanted them to be more “broken” looking so you could see the red and green come through in the meringues. The “larger” pieces of candy did showed their colour a little bit, but the finer powder created a pink tinge to the meringues. It was actually quite lovely, so it all worked out.
Anyways, a big part of making meringues is whipping the egg whites. In order to pipe the meringue onto a baking sheet and have it hold its shape, the meringue needs to form stiff peaks. I’ve made probably literal tonnes, at this point, of swiss meringue buttercream frosting (wedding cake much?). You may have guessed by the name, but making a meringue is a key component of SMBC (essentially I’m trying to say I’ve made a lot of meringues). So with this in consideration, I was surprised when one of the Duchess people was a bit miffed when I mentioned the general guidelines I use to assess my meringue peaks. I think that assessing the peaks is pretty fool-proof, but you`re also looking for the meringue balling up around the whisk and lots of resistance when you drag the whisk through the meringue. Also, no gooping!
Theresa piping meringue like a boss
To me, when we piped our meringues in class they were more of a medium peak than a stiff peak. Regardless of what we did in class I went about making my meringue they way that seemed right to me (except for the part where I accidentally overheated my whites over the double boiler :s), and I would argue that my meringues actually turned out better than the meringues from class. By better, I mean that my meringues were really fluffy and soft on the inside, whereas the meringues from class seemed hollower and harder. I have 4 theories:
- I whipped my meringue into actual stiff peaks
- I piped smaller meringues than we did in class
- I ground my candy canes, so my add in was finer than the chocolate bits we used in class
- I under baked my meringues
The first two theories have to do more with the meringue’s structural stability and ability to bear its own weight. The third theory I’m not 100% sure I understand. In class Giselle talked about how the chocolate (or whatever you choose to add) is necessary to ensure the meringues maintain their shape (or something like that). Apparently she had tried numerous times to make meringues with no extras, and hasn’t been able to get them to work out. To me it seems like the egg whites need something to stick to and use the add ins for that purpose, similar to why you use a bunt pan for angle food cake.
My wee meringues!
The Duchess meringues 🙂
The last theory where I under bake my meringues I don`t actually think is true, because my meringues all cracked like they should (due to the expanding egg whites). Maybe there is a difference between oven temperatures or something. The first few I put in the oven I did over bake because I had browning on the tops of my meringues, but the insides were just as soft as the others. Who knows?
Candy Cane Meringues
- 4 large egg whites
- 230 g (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 90 g candy canes, chopped up and/or ground up
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and prepare baking sheets by covering them in parchment paper.
- In a double boiler heat the egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Ensure that you are whisking well every minute or so. Once the egg whites “loosen” and all the dry ingredients are dissolved remove from the heat (about 50 degrees C)*
- Transfer egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high until stiff peaks form. If you have doubts, keep whipping!
- Fold in the vanilla and candy cane bits with a spatula
- Put your meringue into a large piping bag fitted with a wide star tip**. Pipe into your prepared sheets, leaving about 2 inches between your meringues.
- Bake until the meringues have grown in size and are slightly cracked. My recipe said 15 minutes for small meringues, but mine were done in around 8!
- Cool, then remove from the baking sheet.
- Eat meringues because they are fluffy and delicious.
* I accidentally was looking for 120 degrees C on my candy thermometer, but joke was on me because 50 C is 120 F! My whites smelled distinctly eggy, but nothing scrambled and they whipped up quite nicely 🙂
** You need a wide tip so that anything you add to your meringue doesn’t get stuck