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Christmas Meringues, the angelic holiday cookie

December 5, 2012

It's that time again, the season where cookies and baked goods are popping up everywhere, tempting us with their festive tastiness.

I'm lucky enough to have a great group of baking friends out here on the Island, and we meet up each December for an annual cookie exchange and tasting competition. This year we have a record 18 bakers attending, so we've all been slaving over hot ovens in anticipation of this week's exchange.


I decided to invent something new this year, and created meringue cookies with festive flavours -
Candy Cane Peppermints and After Eights Christmas Trees.

After recipe testing for the past week, I've learned a lot about what makes a successful (and unsuccessful) meringue. I also learned that meringues are not actually very west coast friendly, as the humidity out here can deflate a perfectly airy cookie if you're not paying attention (and it's been raining non-stop all week).

But with a little extra attention and care, these meringue cookies are very easy to make with a crisp crunch, a cloud-like texture, and a taste that sings "Christmas!".

(And it should also be noted during this butter-laden season that the Candy Cane cookies are 100% fat free.)

A note on equipment and double batches:
- A piping bag is ideal for forming these cookies, but if you don't have one, a freezer bag with a small corner snipped off works just fine to pipe them out.
- While a fancy stand mixer is obviously the best choice for whipping up eggs, I was able to make over 250 of these cookies with a crappy old hand mixer just fine. Although I do need a massage now.
- The below recipes can be doubled and tripled for larger batches, you can estimate a yield of approximately 10-15 cookies per egg white.


Candy Cane Meringue Cookies

3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure mint or peppermint extract
Red food colouring

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.
Separate eggs, taking extra care that no yolk gets into whites.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl (with no traces of water or oil, will affect the whipping process)
Beat eggs on low until they are foamy.
Add Cream of Tartar and mint extract.
Beat on high until soft peaks form.

Begin slowly adding sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while beating continuously on high to incorporate
Continue beating until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is shiny and forms stiff peaks
(to test if the sugar is fully dissolved, run a little meringue between your fingers, if it feels gritty, keep beating)

To create a candy cane swirl design on your cookies, use red gel food colouring to paint three lines inside your piping bag before adding the white meringue mixture. If you are using liquid food colouring, separate out one cup of meringue and fold in 10-15 drops of red colour, then alternate the white and red meringues as you fill your piping bag. I used this liquid food colour technique on the cookies pictured below and was happy with the results, but gel will give you a stronger 'red candy cane stripe' in the cookie design.

Pipe the meringue mixture in small, cookie-sized rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. They will not expand very much during baking, so pipe them out to the approximate size you want.

Bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees. If you want a very crisp meringue, turn off the heat and leave them in the oven, door open slightly, for an additional hour. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store the meringues in an air-tight container or sealed bag to maintain their crisp, airy texture.


After Eights Christmas Tree Meringues

These cookies are similar to the Candy Cane Meringues, with an extra punch of mint and dark chocolate in tribute to those wafer-thin After Eights chocolates, a Christmas tradition in my house growing up.

3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure mint or peppermint extract
Green food colouring
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.
Separate eggs, making sure that no yolk gets into whites.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl (with no traces of water or oil, which will affect the whipping process)
Beat eggs on low until they are foamy
Add Cream of Tartar and mint extract
Beat on high until soft peaks form

Begin slowly adding sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while beating continuously on high to incorporate
Continue beating until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is shiny and forms stiff peaks
(to test if the sugar is fully dissolved, run a little meringue between your fingers, if it feels gritty, keep beating)

Add green food colouring until desired colour is achieved. Fill a piping bag with meringue.

Pipe the meringue mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet, starting with a small circle, then spiraling upwards to create a tiny Christmas Tree shape. The trees will not expand very much during baking, so pipe them out to the approximate size you want the finished tree to be.

Bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees. If you want a very crisp meringue, turn off the heat and leave them in the oven, door open slightly, for an additional hour. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave until fluid.

Dip the base of each meringue into the chocolate, then place back on the parchment paper to set. If you wish, pipe a small dot of chocolate onto the top of your trees and add a decorative sugar star.


Store the meringues in an air-tight container or sealed plastic bag to maintain their crisp, airy texture.

Devour in mass quantities, this is the season to be merry, after all!

 I have entered my festive Christmas Meringues in the EatInEatOut Annual Christmas in July Cookie Contest. See all the entries here, there's a great variety of tasty cookie recipes from Food Bloggers of Canada members.

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