Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Meringue Cookies

I had always been fascinated by cookies......ever since my "Noddy" days! Then Enid Blyton further augmented that infatuation, to the point where I used to push my mother daily to make the stuff I read about. After so much pestering, one day her patience finally wore off, and she threatened to stop buying me books. Books are my life and blood. Give me any book.....on any topic....and it is enough to keep me occupied and H.A.P.P.Y!! It is aptly said "Once a reader, is always a reader".....So I was forced to concentrate on the content and not on menu.
Dusting my shelves for the Diwali cleaning, I found my stack of all the Enid Blytons, carefully wrapped away behind the present day crushes of Paul Coelho, Danielle Steel etc. Gleefully I unwrapped them with the thought of just peeking in. However for me, no "peeking in" is complete until I've read the whole book....don't blame me....that's the charm of old books. And the Diwali cleaning....ahh! yes you guessed it right! It went for a toss. One look at those childhood memories and out came my baking pans and the staples.


Meringue cookies is a simple blend of egg whites and sugar, whipped and baked to yield a heavenly delight that is light and airy, crispy yet melt-in-the-mouth treat!


This lip-smacking stuff is easy to bake, once you get the hang of whipping up egg whites to stiff peaks. It is a sugary treat. The main ingredient here is egg-whites and so you need sugar to give those egg-whites some structure. Believe me! Making these, is really really easy.

Coming over to the recipe, the ingredients are easily available in your pantry.....
Ingredients:
Yields 40 cookies of around 3''

Egg-whites of 2 eggs (at room temperature)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cream of tartar (I omitted it; no need if your eggs are fresh & at room temp)
1/2 Tbsp. Butter-scotch extract (it gave a nutty flavor; you can use any flavor you want)
1 heaping Tbsp. Cornstarch/ cornflour
3/4 cup - 1 Tbsp. Castor Sugar (we are subbing 1 Tbsp sugar with Cornstarch above, so first place 1 Tbsp cornstarch in your measuring cup, then fill it with Sugar)
Piping bag with star nozzle
Few drops of Food-grade Red color (gel color is better as it stays longer) for streaking the sides of piping bag

Method:
Beat the egg-whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. With my hand mixer it took 8-10 mins, starting at low speed, moving to high (for around 3 mins) and then gradually reducing it to low speed. You need to beat them at low speed to break-up and stabilize those air bubbles.
TIP: Always start with low speed to warm up the eggs and then proceed to high speed to incorporate max air into it. Then again switch to low speed, so as to break up any large air bubbles and stabilize them. This is the trick responsible for that beautiful fine crumb texture in cakes.



Then slowly add sugar in 3 stages, beating at low speed, until stiff peaks form (my hand mixer took 3 mins after each addition to come to stiff peaks stage).

TIP: Always sift sugar before adding it to your batter. It helps incorporate air and facilitates uniform mixing of elements.

Now add whatever extract you want to use..............
See the stiff peaks!! Reminds me of snow-covered Himalayas....;)...lolss


Pre-heat your oven to 150 C
Fit a star nozzle into your piping bag and streak one side of your bag with red color. Prepare your cookie tray using parchment paper. Fill your piping bag with the cookie batter and pipe it on the tray, holding the nozzle at right angles close to the sheet. Keep the cookies 2'' apart.


Place the cookie sheet into the pre-heated oven and bake them at 150 C for 35-40 mins. The under side of the cookies should be lightly tanned.

Cookies in the oven......yummmm!!


After being baked, leave the cookies on the tray for 30 mins. You're done!
I baked another batch with sprinkling of chocolate vermicellis.....



See the insides..................



Happy munching......


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