Light, airy, sweet...and in bakeries all over Paris. A city I have yet to see. I know, can you believe it?! Me, not see gay PAREE?! I've seen the south of France, parts of Spain, Italy, Greece and even TURKEY (?!), but not Paris....So much of this culinary world yet to be seen. So many more shifts my husband will be working....(haha). Here is a great post with pictures of meringues in bakery windows. I was left drooling...
Meringues, the rumor is, are of Swiss descent. For me, they have always been associated with 'floating island'--the dessert my mother would make when I was a kid. Yes, the women in my family were INCREDIBLY talented pastry makers, but then again so were all the Romanian moms I knew....Nobody makes those kinds of dessert anymore...not that there's anything wrong with American pies and cookies (as you can see, I enjoy those too), but I just LOVE LOVE LOVE European desserts. Sigh...it's a sentimental week for me.
Below, you will see a slower and faster method to make these cookies--which by the way, are wonderful with a cup of dark, hot coffee. Keep in mind, this is a very, very easy cookie recipe! These cookies are crispy, sweet, and have a chewy center. Here's what the middle of my tropical ones looked like:
- Chill your mixing bowl and beaters (at least 15 minutes to several hours)
- Use eggs that are at room temperature
- Add a little salt to ensure a more 'rounded' flavor
- Use powdered sugar--it helps incorporate faster into the egg whites.
- Cutting back on a bit of sugar will ensure a softer, chewier meringue. But traditional meringues have a good amount of sugar to ensure they are stiff, crispy, and airy.
Makes ~50 (but they go pretty fast and you can always share with your friends & neighbors)
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. rum extract OR coconut extract
- 1-2 small pinches of salt
- ~3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup lightly toasted sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
If you don't have toasted coconut, here's a great link on how to make it.
Preheat the oven to 185 degrees. Cover 2-3 sheet pans in parchment paper or use silpats.
Using an upright electric mixer, or a handheld mixer--and in either a glass or stainless steel bowl--beat the egg whites and rum or coconut extract on high speed until they are foamy. Then, begin to sprinkle the sugar and salt in, and continue to beat on high speed.
Beat the egg whites, sugar, salt, and extract until the mixture becomes stiff, white, and very shiny. This can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes (safe to walk away). When the glossy mixture is finished, gently fold in the lightly toasted coconut and chopped macadamia nuts.
Spoon heaps of the meringue mixture onto the parchment paper (don’t worry about how they look, you can make them little or drop them in big, sloppy mounds. OR, you can make them look sophisticated by filling a pastry bag with the meringue mixture and piping them into fancy shapes onto the silpats or parchment paper).
Cook them for about 2 hours or until they are dry and crispy, but not browned. Let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
SECOND METHOD (OVERNIGHT or 'FORGOTTEN COOKIES'):
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Follow directions as above, but after the meringues have been heaped or shaped onto the pans, turn off the oven. Place your pans into the oven (that has been turned off) and close the door. Don't open it again until the morning. (About 8-10 hours--but who gets that much sleep anyway? You'll just have to resist eating them when you put them away in the morning. I, no doubt, failed.)
Even though the point is not to have them turn brown, this particular recipe may give the appearance of a bit more golden meringues because the composition contains toasted coconut (that's ok!). Either way, these little cloud cookies were good!
Meringue cookies keep at room temperature for a week if they are stored, covered, in a DRY area.