12.17.2009

Peppermint Meringue Kisses

Peppermint Meringue KissesOn the Fourth Day of Christmas The Busty Baker baked for me… Peppermint Meringue Kisses!

If winter were a flavor, what would it taste like? Its brilliant white snow crunching under foot. Its chilly wind biting at your fingers and nose, giving your cheeks a rosy glow. Its cold permeating through you, long after you’ve come inside. To me, it would taste a lot like peppermint—cool, crisp, and clean. Maybe that’s why peppermint is such a popular flavor this time of year. Because it is winter. Peppermint’s traditional red and white stripes are the color of your rosy cheeks against winter’s clean white snow, and its cool bite stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the perfect embodiment of winter itself.

I’ve absolutely adored the idea of Peppermint Meringues since I came across them in Martha Stewart’s Cookies book. They were so perfect and beautiful, I just had to make them. Since then, I’ve seen them on several blogs in different forms. While Martha had them sandwiched with chocolate ganache, Joy the Baker kept them plain, while the Beantown Baker dipped the ends in chocolate and crushed peppermint. While Martha’s looked fantastic, and Joy’s looked perfect, it was the Beantown Baker’s idea that won me over.

Meringues are incredibly easy. They’re just egg whites and sugar, right? It’s really hard to screw them up. But, of course, I figured out a way. Martha’s recipe says to put the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water to dissolve the sugar, cooking until the mixture is just warm to the touch. I’m never good at things like that. My pan was more of a rolling boil than a simmer, and my mixture? My eggs practically cooked before my sugar dissolved, and “warm to the touch” ended up being reeeally hot. But it was probably salvageable. I’d just strain out the cooked egg white pieces and start whipping them up. They’d be fine.

Well. They didn’t really whip up. They got white and glossy and there were definite stiff peaks, but it didn’t look anything like meringue. Oh well. I wouldn’t get as many out of it, but it’d still be ok. Time to add the peppermint extract. And that’s when it really went wrong. My somewhat stiff peaks turned to soup. And no amount of beating would bring them back. My incredibly easy, hard to screw up batch of meringues went into the trash, and I went in search of a recipe that didn’t require heat.

Peppermint Meringue KissesI found a very straightforward (and very easy!) recipe at Joy of Baking.com. And I also found out from 17 and Baking that meringue hates peppermint, and there’s a good chance that adding too much of it to your stiff peaks will deflate them beyond repair. Good to know. Round 2 whipped up beautifully, and instead of adding the ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract that Martha suggested (which made for some REALLY strong meringue soup), I added only ¼ teaspoon. Ta-da! Just a subtle hint of peppermint, and more importantly, no soupy mess!

They came out beautifully, and once they were dry and cooled I dipped them in chocolate (with the other ¼ of a teaspoon of peppermint Martha suggested mixed in to give it more of a pepperminty taste.) and crushed peppermint pieces, just like the Beantown Baker. Absolutely divine. They’re crispy and light with just a slight taste of cool peppermint that stays in your mouth after you’re done, and a nice balance of smooth chocolate. It’s like sipping cocoa in a cool winter day. Just make sure you’re serving these at a party or wrapping up in treat bags to give as gifts, because it makes over 100, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself snacking on a half dozen at a time!




Peppermint Meringue KissesPeppermint Meringue Kisses
Adapted from Joy of Baking.com, Beantown Baker, and Martha Stewart's Cookies
Makes about 10 dozen



Meringues:
3 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup of granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Red gel-paste food coloring

Chocolate:
1 cup chopped chocolate pieces
1 tablespoon shortening
¼ peppermint extract
1 cup crushed peppermint candies

1. Preheat oven to 200F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Set aside. Fit a pastry bag or ziptop bag with an open star tip. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in peppermint extract.
3. Using a small paintbrush (preferably new, or one used only for food), paint two or three stripes of red gel-paste food coloring inside the pastry bag. Fill bag with 1 to 2 cups of meringue. Pipe small (3/4-inch high) star shapes onto prepared baking sheets. Refill bag as necessary, adding food coloring each time. Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
4. When meringues are completely cooled, prepare chocolate dip: Spread crushed peppermint candies in a shallow dish. Set aside. In a small saucepan , combine chocolate and shortening. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract.
5. Dip the bottom of meringues in chocolate, then dip in candy. Place on waxed paper and let stand until chocolate is set.
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7 comments:

oneordinaryday said...

So pretty and festive. I totally agree that if peppermint is the flavor of winter. If snow could taste like something, it'd have to be peppermint.

Jen said...

Yours look great! And I completely agree. Peppermint is probably my favorite holiday flavor.

Mara Bakes said...

Yum! Peppermint is by far my favorite Holiday flavor. I feel the need to make these now.

Lori said...

I so agree because after so many times, I only add half of whatever extract is called for. This is especially true of peppermint and almond as well.

These are so adorable!

jami said...

They look adorable! I love the idea of painting the food coloring inside the piping bag. Really terrific!

lostpastremembered said...

Great job... and perfect photo!

Ingrid said...

They're lovely! Good for you on stick with it. I should tell you that I'd have probably made the same mistakes. Sometimes the "easiest" recipes are the toughest for me.
~ingrid

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