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.
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.
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.
cups cocoa x 100 grams per cup = 25 grams cocoa.
25 grams + n = 165 grams
n = 140 grams. I need 140 grams of sugar.
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!
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"