Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anniversary Meringues

Last June, I recalled our niece's wedding with a dessert that echoes the flavors of the wedding cake, raspberry and lemon, in an Isles Flotant for Two.  This year, the anniversary tribute gets even simpler with make-ahead vanilla meringue cookies that sandwich raspberry sorbet and get a little crown of lemon curd.

Meringues are easy to make and can be stored in an airtight container for days.  The sandwich cookies can be made on the spot with a scoop of sorbet and a drizzle of warmed lemon curd.  If you'd like a softer cookie, make the sandwiches, wrap in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer until you are ready to serve.  Warm lemon curd in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and drizzle over the cookies or bring to the table for dipping. 

The basic formula for meringues is 1 egg white to 1/4 cup sugar.  A pinch of cream of tartar will help the egg whites form nice peaks when you whip them.  Here is the recipe using two egg whites, which makes about 14-16 meringue cookies.

Pure note: you can purchase good quality meringues if you do not have time to make them and assemble the sandwiches from there.  Check the label to pick ones that have few ingredients and ones that you recognize. 

Two Egg Whites Meringues
Yield 14-16 cookies

Ingredients
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad.  
  2. Place egg whites in a large, very clean bowl.  Use a hand mixer or whisk to beat egg whites until they are frothy.  
  3. Add sugar, about a tablespoon at a time while continuing to whip mixture.  About halfway through adding the sugar, add cream of tartar.  Continue adding the sugar a bit at a time.  Beat until egg whites form stiff peeks.  Note: on more humid days, this will be more challenging. You can add bit more cream of tartar.  If, after 10-15 minutes, you still do not have very stiff peeks, proceed with the recipe.  There is enough air beaten onto the egg whites to create lift in the oven.  You will not be able to create intricate details or pipe your cookies but you will be able to spoon dollops onto the cookie sheet to make little puffs, perfect for a ice cream sandwich.  
  4. Stir in vanilla. 
  5. Next, spoon (or pipe) batter onto cookie sheet.  Each cookie should have 1-2 tablespoons of batter and be placed about an inch apart.  
  6. Bake at 300˚F for 20 minutes, puffed but not browned.  Do not open oven to check on meringues.  
  7. Turn off oven and allow meringues to cool slowly as the oven cools.  This will create a dry and crisp meringue. 
Store cookies in an airtight container.

Variations
Chocolate mint chip ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Frozen banana "ice cream" with butterscotch sauce