Meringue Cookies

So with all of the different ice creams I’ve made recently, I have found myself with a ton of egg whites on hand (fourteen!). Meringues seemed like an appropriate way to quickly put some of those to use without throwing off the weekly food budget. Better still, its been so long since I had meringues, so why not?

Plate of Meringue Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies, cakes, ice creams, etc are all awesome desserts, but when you have any one of those, there’s no questioning that you just ate something that was “bad” for you. Meringues are one of those treats you simply don’t feel guilty about eating though–they’re light as air, simple, and sweet (notice I didn’t say it is healthier–it just seems better!). With a nice crunchy outside and a delicious, marshmallowy inside, how can you go wrong? Seeing how the effort and the cost is so minimal, this is a great way to make a simple, finger-food dessert. Plus, playing with my KitchenAid still hasn’t gotten old yet, so I needed an excuse to use it again (like I’m going to beat all those egg whites to stiff peaks by hand)!

  • 7 egg whites
  • 1.75 cups sugar (1/4 cup per egg white)
  • 1/2+ tsp cream of tartar
  • Optional: 1/2 cup pecans

(this will make around 40-50 meringues)

So to start, separate some eggs (or if you’re in the situation I was in, you already did this for some other recipe), taking great care not to get anything other than egg whites into the egg whites bowl. Any grease, yolk, residual soap, etc will sabotage your efforts, so make sure the bowl is clean, dry, and that you do a good job of separating the whites from the yolks (whether you do the back and forth in the cracked shell or let it sift between your fingers–whatever!). Then, let the egg whites warm up to room temperature (let them sit out in the open for about 30 minutes to an hour if they’ve been in the fridge).

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar

You don’t want to jump the gun and try to work with cold egg whites. Meringues are really simple when you consider the ingredients you put into them, and the bulk of what makes them what they are is that you beat a whole lot of fluffiness into the egg whites and then cook them slowly so that they lose all of their moisture and stay in that fluffed state in hard cookie form. Cold egg whites don’t fluff up nearly as easily due to some voo doo chemistry reasons (if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will! 😉 My engineering education hard at work…).

So anyways, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a big mixing bowl if you want to use an electric hand mixer), add the room temperature egg whites. Start mixing on a low speed for about 3 minutes or so to get things frothed up a bit. Then, add in the cream of tartar. This alters the pH of the egg whites and will help them froth up a lot more as we go. Other recipes call for other ingredients that will serve the same purpose (e.g. vinegar, salt, lemon), but I wanted to add something with a more neutral flavor. So anyways, continue to mix this, increasing up to medium speed.

Gradually add sugar and increase the speed

After about a minute or two, slowly begin to add in the sugar. I did this in 1/4 cup batches so that it would force me to be slow and gradual about incorporating the sugar. Gradually increase the mixer speed as well up to a medium-high sort of speed (I eventually went up to 8 on my KitchenAid).

While you’re waiting on the mixing to finish, put the nuts in a bag and break them down a bit with a meat mallet. You could fold this into the batter, but I instead used it more as a topping (whatever suits your fancy–or use no nuts at all! Chocolate/cocoa powder would also work nicely).

Check that the whites form stiff peaks

Once the egg whites form stiff peaks (e.g. you pull the whisk out of the egg whites and it forms a tuft that stays there in place, defying gravity), you’re done mixing. If its not ready yet, mix some more until it is.

Stiff peaks, defying gravity all right!

With the egg white mixture stiff and the sugar totally dissolved into the egg whites, preheat the oven to 200?F and get out a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper on top of it (the quantity in this recipe will require more than one sheet–two or three should do). If you have a pastry bag, you should transfer the egg white mixture into that and use it to squeeze out nice globs. If you’re like me and don’t have a pastry bag, you have two options: (1) be adventurous and use a plastic bag with a corner cut off or (2) be boring and just use two spoons: one to scoop some mixture out of the bowl and the other to slide it out of the first spoon and onto the baking sheet. I did the latter.

Scoop out the mixture into nice, evenly spaced globs

The meringues won’t expand much in the oven, so don’t worry about crowding them too much. If you’re including a topping, sprinkle it over the meringues at this point. Transfer this to the oven and let it sit for about an hour and a half. You want these to cook slowly and on a low temperature to allow the eggs to slowly release their moisture without bursting open or caramelizing the sugar, thereby burning the outside of the meringues. This way, your result is still a pristine white poof of sweetness.

Top the meringues with crushed pecans

Sadly, you can’t dive in just yet. Turn off the oven and prop it open a crack. You’re certainly able to sample a meringue at this point–they’re cooked and done.

Bite into a meringue–crunchy outside, marshmallowy inside

However, they’re not entirely dried out just yet. The outside is, but inside will firm up a bit more given time, but if you just let them sit in the slightly open oven overnight, they should finish drying out a bit more, making them just right for a light snack tomorrow.


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17 Responses to “Meringue Cookies”

  1. Pixie Says:

    What a fabulous idea! I always end up tossing my egg whites and I hate waste. Question, how long can you store the egg whites?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and yes, there’s much more to pasta making than I thought. Though, Jamie Oliver showed a 5 minute version of it on his program last week. Am planning to try his method next.

  2. mike Says:

    I wouldn’t store them for terribly long–just a few days in the fridge, hopefully within a week of breaking the egg. Everything I’ve read on this topic was inconsistent–some say let the whites sit for a few days, others say use it within a day, so I’ll just say somewhere between all of those. 😉

    Glad to stop by and welcome to you as well! I’ll be sure to stop by to see how the pasta goes. While I learned from my many mistakes, I’ll still take any tips I can get so that the next batch goes faster and smoother.

  3. Bellini Valli Says:

    This would be a great use for those egg leftover egg whites 😀 I’d love every tender morsel 😀

  4. Joe Says:

    Egg whites also freeze quite well!

  5. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    Ooh, such pretty little clouds! You’re pictures look better with every entry, Mike. Love the one with the mixer.

  6. Mansi Says:

    wow Mike! Looks like those cookies would float in air and come to me! loved the texture!

    looks great:)

  7. Laurie Constantino Says:

    Mike, you are outdoing yourself lately. These look great – now why can’t my husband make me treats like this???

    As for storing egg-whites, I freeze them until I have enough for a recipe and they work just fine for meringues or icings etc. If I’m organized, I freeze the whites individually in ice cube trays. When organization is beyond me I freeze them in a jar, label with number of whites, and add more whites on top (changing the label of course) until I’m ready to make something with them.

  8. Toni Says:

    First time visiting your site, and I’ve fallen into a cloud! I’m not a major dessert fan (I’m hopefully full by the time I finish the meal), but these are exactly my kind of dessert. You’re right — healthier. I have no problem throwing away the yolks, believe it or not. But the whites? Oooooooooooooh! Sinful!

    Thanks for the tip on bringing the whites up to room temperature. I wouldn’t have known that part.

  9. Nora Says:

    Hi Mike,
    It would be hard to stop at one! I like how you sprinkled pecans on top. When I had so many leftover egg whites last month, I made angel food cake. Similar to what you said about the meringue cookies, it feels as though it’s good for you (just ignore the sugar content..hee hee). What I really want to make someday when I gather the courage is make macarons (*shiver*)

    Have a nice weekend ahead.


  10. foodie froggy Says:

    Too funny…I have just made meringue cookies too. I love them !

  11. mike Says:

    Bellini — agreed! My wife is already asking me when I’ll make more…and her friends are doing the same. And to think, I just viewed them as a nice way of dressing up leftovers…

    Joe — I never knew that! That will definitely make managing them a lot easier.

    Susan — thanks! That means a lot…slowly learning, but definitely trying :-)

    Mansi — thanks! :-)

    Laurie — haha, if I put my efforts anywhere in the week, its dessert, easily the most important part of any meal. 😉 I wish I’d known about freezing egg whites. I’ll need to grab some extra jars and get a good system going because that sounds like the perfect way to store them.

    Toni — welcome! I hope you keep visiting–I’ll try to make a dessert convert out of you yet. 😉

    Nora — thanks! And agreed–you eat one, say eh, that was nothing, I’ll have another. And again. And again… Angle food cake sounds tempting as well (it was actually the other candidate for the egg whites). Its almost as if these faux-healthy desserts are more dangerous than the obviously, super-rich ones–those make it easier to stop. Now macaroons–I completely forgot about those! That sounds like a good plan for the next batch of egg whites…!

    foodie — funny how that worked out! Definitely a fun and tasty treat to have handy

  12. Pam Says:

    Mike, I have been avoiding some of the ice cream recipes because I didn’t want to waste the egg whites. This is perfect. And it’s great to know that they can be frozen!

  13. shalimar Says:

    I hate throwing egg whites I myself always end up making meringue or other treats that use egg whites. I love the sizes you made that can be easily popped into your mouth,
    I also wonder if you are nearer my zip code (PBeach) so I can knock on yr door and taste them 😉

  14. Lydia Says:

    I love the idea of meringue cookies, but it still seems like a wallop of sugar. I wonder, is there anything else that can take its place and still give stability to the egg whites?

  15. Helene Says:

    They look really good and I love the picture.

  16. steamy kitchen Says:

    cute cookies! perfect for v-day.

  17. mike Says:

    Pam — I know, I’m delighted about the freezing egg whites thing as well, because there is plenty more ice cream in the queue. 😉 The tough thing will be finding an equal amount of recipes to keep the egg whites in circulation…

    Shalimar — thanks! :-) Tossing perfectly good food drives me nuts, too. Just like when you don’t finish a bunch of herbs in time… What other treats have you done using egg whites? And PBeach is a bit of a drive, but I suppose most parts of Florida are. I’m all for food blogger potlucks–best part, all attendees are able to cook! lol

    Lydia — it is a pretty good amount, but taste wise, I wouldn’t say its quite over the top (health-wise might be another story…). I would imagine you could tweak the proportions to reduce the sugar, up the cream of tartar, and probably whip the eggs a bit longer, but I’m not really quite sure how it would fare (e.g. I’d worry that they might deflate a bit more during cooking). Hard to say without experimenting, but you’ve piqued my curiosity….

    Helene — thanks! :-)

    steamy — thanks!

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