Have you tried macarons? You know…they are ALL the rage. I have and I’m left nonplussed. I thought maybe it was me, you know, a novice at the craft. The French cookie that requires seemingly perfect ingredients, perfect proportions and I’m sure, perfect altitude. I tried, I really did but even if I mastered the first two, the last was never going to be. I live at 5,280 feet and if altitude comes to bear at all, well, I’m in trouble. My first attempt was to make some Chocolate Nutella Macarons and though I got the ‘feet’ that are so important to the perfect end result, my ‘magma’ flow of meringue was apparently not quite right and I ended up with a cute little twirl on top. My second attempt, Boysenberry Buttercream Macarons had another whole set up issues and I decided this effort which is timely and expensive was just not for me.
BUT…that does not mean I have to abandon meringue entirely for I’ve always loved plain and simple meringue cookies. The crunchy exterior belies the pillowy soft interior that literally seems to melt in your mouth. I haven’t made meringue cookies in several years and was inspired to do some again by, of all things, a chocolate chip cookie. That’s right!
Still, I didn’t sweat it too much and like these things do…it sort of came together on it’s own. I saw Rachael with La FujiMama do a post with chocolate chip and toffee meringues and was reminded of how much I love meringue cookies and maybe just as important…how successful they have always been for me; no stressing and no feet required!
Years ago I used to love to decorate a ton of Christmas cookies but without kids here to help decorate and eat them, I’m taking a break. Still I used to enjoy that and was talking to some friends who were here for dinner last night about this project and what I wanted to do. They had helped me get my Christmas up from storage in the basement (well, several trees actually). One is a small tabletop tree that I wrap up with the ornaments intact and something about the star nestled in the greenery and the gold and white ornaments were the inspiration I needed and a plan was hatched. Green meringue trees with white chocolate decorations! It’s so me…I might nestle some burgundy glass ornaments into my main tree but I’m all about the green trees, the white lights and the gold and silver sparkles!
Meringues cookies are actually so easy to make; making them green was easy too and truthfully the star and the ‘ornaments’ came together quickly; they are just some melted white chocolate that is piped and in the case of the star, dusted with gold glitter. The proof was, as they say, ‘in the pudding’ and they gave that great light taste I love with just a hint of white chocolate; just as elegant to eat as they look on the table.
I have to admit I had some fun playing with the finished cookie. I have my own vintage set of holiday houses (well, 25+ years old at least) and I thought it would be fun to use one of my favorites as a prop. I don’t get the set out every year but now that I’ve done one…I want more. If you stop by, take a peek; maybe you’ll find a hidden treat!
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup superfine sugar (I just put regular sugar in my processor for a minute to get it finer
- Green food color (I used paste but liquid works fine too)
- 6 oz white chocolate chips
- Gold edible glitter for decoration (mine is from King Arthur)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy.
- Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks.
- Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat on medium-high speed until the meringue holds very stiff peaks.
- Beat in the food coloring; the meringue might deflate a bit so just continue beating until the meringue holds stiff peaks again.
- Pipe meringues in a tree shape using a large, serrated piping tip.
- Bake the meringues for 2 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back about half way through to ensure even baking.
- They should not be brown but crisp on the outside. Cool completely.
- Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler (I actually just put a bowl in a small saucepan)
- Fit a pastry bag or a ziploc baggie with a small, rounded edge piping cone and fill with melted white chocolate.
- Pipe stars on silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with glitter and allow to cool.
- Peel the stars from the silpat once cool and attach to the trees with a dab of white chocolate.
- Pipe dots of white chocolate directly onto tree in a random pattern.