Meringue cookies are a deliciously light and fluffy bite of goodness.  With just a few ingredients these simple cookies take only a few minutes to prepare but do require an extended period in the oven.  I guarantee they are worth the wait!  My favorite ways to eat them are in the morning with my coffee or for dessert with fresh fruit.

Ingredients

3 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions

Allow eggs to come to room temperature by leaving them on the counter for a few hours (I take mine out while getting coffee in the morning) or in a pinch you can put them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes.

Clean your equipment thoroughly.  A tip here is to rinse out your mixer bowl, rubber spatula and whisk attachment with vinegar and then with water and a little soap.  The vinegar gets rid of any oily residue which can kill a meringue.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your cookie sheet.   Have all ingredients to hand and the sugar already measured (trust me on this, it will make the whole process much easier).

Separate egg whites one at a time into a separate bowl ensuring there is absolutely no yolk as the fat in it will not allow the whites to fluff up correctly.  I happen to have one of those “baker’s secret” egg white separators but I prefer to use the egg shells themselves or my fingers.  If you have never done this before there are plenty of instructional videos on youtube.

In your mixer with the whisk attachment (or in a bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy.

Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.

Now slowly add the powdered sugar with the machine on medium high (about a tablespoon at a time) allowing a few seconds for each addition to incorporate.  Once the meringue holds stiff peaks add the vanilla extract and continue beating until incorporated.  The key is to test your meringue by rubbing a small bit between your fingers making sure it is no longer gritty from the sugar.

Place a ziplock bag (if you are like me and refuse to pay a lot of money for a pastry bag that will rarely see action) into a medium sized bowl.  I place one corner down into the very bottom and then fold the top over the sides of the bowl to make it easier to add the meringue.

Add a tiny dot of meringue to the corner of the cookie sheet before smoothing out the parchment paper on top to keep it from slipping around.

Now pipe your meringues.  I like mine to be bite sized and use a swirl motion to make them pretty.  Just place the tip onto the paper, squeeze gently and swirl around and up in a smooth motion and . . . presto, your meringues look like they were made professionally.  But if they turn out a little funny looking, no worries, they’ll still taste great.

Bake meringues for 45-50 minutes and then turn the sheet around to ensure even baking.  Bake another 45-50 minutes until they easily release from the parchment paper.  They should feel slightly crispy and firm.

Total bake time will be between 1 1/2 hours and 2 hours depending on the humidity.

Now comes the hard part, place a wooden spoon in the oven door so that it remains cracked open and wait a few hours for them to finish drying.  If you happen to sneak a bite they inside may be a little soft but is still delicious.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last long enough to even get in a container).

TIP: These can be enhanced by switching out the vanilla for peppermint extract or almond extract.  You can add cocoa powder and chocolate chips or crushed peppermint candies.

Bonus:  During one of my experimental batches I had the oven too high.  The sugar caramelized turning the meringues brownish and preventing them from crisping properly.  This is about trials and errors so I’ll admit to a big error this time.

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