Here’s the recipe from the cookie decorating party. I sprinkled the tops with green and red sugar crystals in the spirit of the holiday season.
Crack a couple of eggs and gently transfer the egg yolk of each between eggshell halves letting the gloppy whites fall into a bowl below. Let them sit for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
Begin to beat. By hand with a whisk if you have stamina, a good arm and wrist action; or use a hand beater, a portable beater, or an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. The translucent whites begin to foam. That’s good. They begin to rise, that’s good, too. Keep on beating – harder and faster – if you’re doing this by hand, wipe your brow and keep beating.
Once the egg whites are foamy and high, it’s time to add flavor, such as vanilla extract, and stabilize the foam with sugar. Tip the measuring cup filled with sugar and let a thin stream flow continuously as you beat. For those of you beating by hand, a helper is needed for 30 seconds. Watch the transformation as the white foam stiffens and rises to a silky white mountain. The meringue is done once the foam stands high and straight, called the stiff peak stage, when you pull your whisk or beater straight up. The meringue is ready to be piped or spooned onto a parchment-lined tray at this point or fold in additional ingredients, such as chopped chocolate or nuts.
Pipe or spoon onto a parchment-lined and bake at low-heat (200ºF) for one and one-half hours. The meringue sets during this time but needs extra hours in the oven with no heat to dry throughout.
A properly cooked meringue is feathery light. Slice one open and the interior is porous. Pop one in your mouth and it dissolves instantly. Store in an airtight container; meringues quickly absorb any moisture in the air, which softens them.
French Meringues Kisses
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar**
Preheat the oven to 200ºF and line a large cookie tray with parchment paper or Silpat.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl and beat on low. Once the eggs begin to foam increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until the egg whites are completely white and foamy.
Don’t stop beating; add the vanilla and let the sugar flow in a steady stream into the egg mixture. Increase the speed to high and beat to the stiff peak stage. Pinch a bit of the meringue between your thumb and finger to make sure the sugar has completely dissolved. If it is still a little grainy, continue beating.
Scoop the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe small kisses.
Place tray in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat, don’t open the door, and leave for 4 hours. Remove and serve, or store in an airtight container.
*Cream of tartar is an acid that helps change the structure of the egg whites. If you don’t have it, substitute an equal amount of white vinegar or lemon juice.
**Superfine sugar is sold at most grocery stores. Granulated sugar can be ground in a food processor to obtain a finer granule.