Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Peppermint (and Cocoa) Meringue Kisses, and Giveaway Winner!


Did everyone have a lovely holiday?  I hope so, and I also hope that many of you are still enjoying a relaxing vacation before heading back to work!  My Christmas with family and friends was everything I hoped it would be and was surprisingly stress-free...with the exception of my flight to Norway.  

The east coast winter storm basically closed most airports and left thousands stranded after the holidays; though my travels were interrupted, I count myself lucky that my delay meant more time with family and not more time sleeping on the floor of Newark Airport.  I finally arrived in Oslo today after having TWO cancelled flights on Sunday and Monday this week (if you follow me on twitter you heard all about it!) and this Norwegian Cilantropist is looking forward to a week and a half of bliss.      


So for today, I am going to tell you about the peppermint meringue kisses that I made before the holidays.  I know that Christmas is officially over, but as a good friend reassured me, peppermint flavors can be enjoyed throughout winter and should not be limited to the holidays.


The recipe comes from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Dodge; earlier this year, I was the lucky winner of a copy of Desserts 4 Today through a giveaway on VinoLuci's site.  This book has loads of fabulous recipes that all use only four ingredients.  (Get it, Desserts "4" Today?)  Oh yes, you heard me right.  You can whip up a quick and easy dessert with four things that you already have in your pantry, or can easily pick up from your local grocer.      


For those meringue newbies here, meringues are basically egg whites and sugar whipped into smooth submission.  Add a little flavor, and they are basically the perfect dessert to make with only four ingredients.  Rather than wax poetic about how easy it is to make these kisses, I will take a backseat and let Abby show you! 




And the finished product?  Well, I didn't manage to make shining peppermint stars like Abby's meringues, but mine still looked just as festive as a peppermint candy and were pure snow-white.  Since good looks only carry you so far in life, I should also mention that the meringues had the ideal mint flavor and a bite gave a pleasant crunch.  These will definitely be on my list for holiday baking again next year, but they would pair equally well with a steaming cup of hot cocoa on any cold winter day.  






Peppermint Meringue Kisses
Reprinted with permission, from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Dodge

Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just Four Ingredients

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 large egg whites
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
Approximately 1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes
2 tbsp red sprinkles (optional) 

Heat the oven to 175°F. Line 1 large cookie sheet with parchment (not a nonstick liner). Sift the confectioner’s sugar twice to remove all lumps and divide into two fairly equal portions.


Put the egg whites in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites hold soft peaks. Continue beating while gradually adding one portion of confectioner’s sugar. Beat until firm, glossy peaks form. Add the peppermint extract and mix briefly. Sift the remaining confectioner’s sugar over the meringue and gently fold in until blended.


Scoop the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a large (#8) star tip. Pipe swirled kisses (about 1-1/2 inches wide and 2 inches high) about 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle the finely chopped peppermint candies over the kisses.



Bake until dry and crisp, about 3 hours. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven for 1 hour.** Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.  

**I followed her recipe to a T, with the exception that I forgot to leave them in the oven for the extra hour to cool.  They were still fabulous.
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I was so inspired by Abby's 4-ingredient peppermint meringues, that I decided to create a cocoa twin.  At first I supposed that I could simply replace some of the dry ingredients (confectioner's sugar) with cocoa powder to keep the same light texture, but then I worried they would lose their delicate sweetness.  So how should I formulate the recipe?   


I did a little research and here is what I found: to make a firm meringue, it seems the recommendation is to use a constant ratio of 55 grams of sugar to 1 egg white.  Ok, simple enough.  But, don't forget that different ingredients have different weights.  Stumped?  Lets do a little more research to learn that 1 cup of confectioners sugar = approximately 110-125 grams, and 1 cup of cocoa = 100g.  Now, time for some old-fashioned arithmetic: 

I want to use 3 egg whites.
3 egg whites x 55 grams for each = 165 grams dry ingredients total. 
I need approximately 165 grams of sugar and cocoa.

Lets say I use 1/4 cup cocoa.  
0.25 cups cocoa x 100 grams per cup = 25 grams cocoa.
25 grams + n = 165 grams
n = 140 grams.  I need 140 grams of sugar. 

140 grams / 110 grams of sugar per cup = 1.25 cups sugar.

Solution (also known as recipe): 
3 egg whites
0.25 (1/4) cup cocoa powder, 25 grams
1.25 (1 1/4) cup confectioners sugar, 137.5 grams

(Remember this basic math from grade school??)
Do you think I am completely crazy?  Maybe you forgot that I am a scientist.  This is what I do.   


And look how they turned out!  The meringue batter held beautiful peaks, and instead of sugar losing the race to cocoa, they both tied for first place and vanilla extract followed in second.  I baked them at a higher temperature (350 degrees) for less time since I didn't need to worry about them browning; next time I make them I might try a lower temperature and see how that goes.  

I also think I might use a different tip or method for piping the meringues... 


Because lets be honest.  They look like little piles of poo with sugar on top.  


Despite their resemblance to puppy do-do, they were in fact the more preferable taste of light chocolate, and had a crunchy exterior and chewy interior.  Overall I was really happy, though not happy enough to share the recipe here with you yet.  Not only can I not compete with Abby's tried-and-true peppermint meringues, but I think you could agree that they are not exactly picture-perfect yet.  And I certainly do not want to share a recipe with you that is unworthy.

So til next time... Check back for the recipe to pop up here in the future and enjoy the Peppermint Meringue Kisses from Desserts 4 Today!
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Oh and bless my silly little head, I almost forgot to tell you who won the amazing giveaway from Tate's Bake Shop.  Diana of a girl, a dog, and an oven left a comment saying her favorite cookie to bake is a snickerdoodle and she is the winner!  Congratulations Diana, you will receive a cookie gift pack and a copy of Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.  And don't forget, until Dec. 31st, you can still get 15% off all of Tate's products on their website by using the code "cookie"

35 comments:

  1. Congrats to Diana!

    Those meringues look awesome!

    Happy New Year!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I haven't had meringues in ages! Yours are so pretty.

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  3. That's great that Diana won!!!

    Your meringue cookies look wonderful! I make meringues all the time... they're so easy and relatively healthy too!

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  4. Your meringues look super pretty!
    I once decorated chocolate cupcakes with a milk chocolate frosting with a big round tip, and I was told by a few grad students that they looked like they were covered in poop.... too funny!

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  5. Congrats to the winner, these meringues look fab & that math computation is too much for my wee brain. You and my husband would get along! He would do math for fun.

    Have fun

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  6. The chocolate ones look good enough to try to make at home, but looking forwarded to your perfected recipe, anyhow. I think your peppermint ones look divine, just as good as Abby's!!

    Happy new year! Cheers.

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  7. Well if those little things ain't perfection I don't know what is!

    (Aside from yourself, of course!)

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  8. Wow, those look so amazing! I am thinking I may have to whip up a batch. It's never too late for candy cane flavors. Yum!

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  9. I love meringue cookies! I have some leftover candy canes and this sounds like the perfect way to use them. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Both peppermint and cocoa meringues look delightful! Such yummy little treats! Happy new year!

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  11. With all of the cookies I have seen, read about, and EATEN over the last few weeks, you would think I would be done with them. But these cute little treats have an appeal all their own. yum!

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  12. These look delicious Amanda!

    Being the blonde that I most definitely am I was totally lost in the mathematics. I have always heard it's more exacting to weigh your ingredients vs. measure them. That being said, I have yet to purchase a kitchen scale. Maybe it's time!

    Have a wonderful New Year and enjoy your trip to Norway!

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  13. These look so pretty~~.
    Happy new year.^^*

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  14. Yay!! Thanks so much!! I'm so excited for the package!! :o)

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  15. lovely post congrats to the winner happy new year

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  16. Brian: Thanks for mentioning it, completely forgot to say this cookie is relatively healthy! A nice break from holiday gluttony.

    Jan: Ah the woes of chocolate do-do piles... ;) Any suggestions for how to make them look better?

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  17. Peppermint and chocolate are welcome any time of year! These look light and scrumptious. :)

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  18. A stress free Christmas - now's there's a thing of beauty! I think that would be the best gift. Glad to hear that you made it to Norway after all your flight delays. Have a Happy New Year!

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  19. Oh hon, I just love you for admitting that the cocoa meringues look like puppy doo-doo. Because even though they look delicious, they kind of do look like doo-doo! The peppermint meringues look gorgeous (and delicious) as well. Hope you are enjoying your time away!

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  20. I think they are both cute! ...and inviting. Congrats to Diana!

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  21. OMG! These r sooo cute and i bet they taste delicious too!! My first time here and i LOVE ur blog! I am your happy follower now! :)

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  22. i don't think we should stop using peppermint, eggnog and cranberries when Christmas is over. they give the best sweet treats winter long. look at your meringue, they are perfect. perfect.
    thanks for sharing and congrats to Diana

    New Year begins, let us pray,
    that it will be a year with new Peace,
    New Happiness, and abundance of new friends,
    God bless you through out the new Year.

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  23. Happy New Year - hope you are enjoying Norway finally! Can't wait to read all about it!

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  24. Meringues, how delightful! These look absolutley marvelous! Such beautiful work!

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  25. I'm somewhat allergic to mint/peppermint and anything related to them but boy thise meringue kisses look so cute. I hope you are finally enjoying the Norwegian bliss without being awake and on twitter at 5 am! Happy new year!

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  26. Haha, there is a bit of a poo thing going on there (what is it with us writing food blogs and including the word 'poo'?!), but regardless they look AWESOME.

    I want this recipe :D

    Jax x

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  27. I love the lightness of meringues. Your Peppermint Meringue Kisses sound lovely. And your pictures are absolutely stunning.

    Sorry to hear you had 2 flights canceled on you. Hope you are enjoying the holidays now. Happy New Year to you!!

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  28. Lovely meringue kisses! Happy new year!

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  29. My one attempt at meringues was a huge fail. Yours look wonderful- I love the addition of pepperment! Happy new year!

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  30. Your meringues look perfect...I have always been terrified to even attempt :)
    Wishing you a beautiful and joy filled 2011!

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  31. Oh please give the recipe for the cocoa meringue cookies! They look delicious :-)

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  32. These look amazing!! Why didn't we get to try these at home for the holidays?? Can you send me some?! Yum!

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  33. Great recipes and you are also quite talented with your camera :)

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  34. Such gorgeous photos!

    You going to re-invent the lamington for my contest thise year? You'd be great!

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  35. This is why I hate baking! Great math skills, I guess I get lucky when mine work out :)

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