Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meringue Cookies

I was a freshman in high school when I visited Paris for the first time. My mom planned a fabulous 3 week trip for our girlfriends, Katy Hawes-Houchin and Gayle Eby, that started in the capital city. The final two weeks we trekked through the countryside, staying at exquisite chateau B&B's and eating with the locals.

My memories of this holiday are vivid and clear. I was still at a very awkward stage-painfully skinny with a mouth full of metal. Above all, I was quite impressionable. Paris impressed me then and it fascinates me now.

I grew up with a sweet tooth-what kid from the 80's didn't? Big Chew gum, Bomb Pop Popsicle, Air Heads and Nerds were on the same level as the vegetables in MY food pyramid. I clearly remember the first time I walked past a local boulangerie in the Latin Quarter in Paris-the smell of fresh baguettes was pronounced, but the array of delectable sweets was BRILLIANT! I didn't know where to start-so I requested from the madame the only thing that was familiar to my Okie lexicon-"Je prend le meringue!" After all, my grammy made an ambrosial chocolate meringue pie!

It was over after that-I was HOOKED! Every town we stopped in Katy and I devoured meringues! We rated them and compared each to the last one we had. Each boulangerie had their own style-THE BIGGER THE BETTER! They were usually priced around 1Euro (then), so it was an affordable way to keep the teenagers happily saturated with sugar. We didn't complain.

Brian and I visited Paris in March. And yes, I was again infatuated with the fluffy little piece of perfection. Since our return, I decided that it was time to STOP dreaming and START creating! We had special company this weekend which made it a perfect time to give it a go and see if I could successfully satisfy my memories!

With any recipe, I think that there is ALWAYS room for creativity-don't limit yourself by what the recipe says. Be bold-don't stick to the confines of what someone else deems standard! I think that you could dip these cookies in chocolate, use any type of nut and make them any size to fit the need of your family or your event. Have fun with it!

I hope that you enjoy these charming cookies as much as I do-they are little piece of Parisian perfection! They are SUPERB for a baby/wedding shower, bachelorette party, a mid-day luncheon or an after-church brunch!

Meringue Cookies

To begin, set 3 eggs out long enough for them to come to room temperature. Using clean, oil-free utensils after they have come to room temperature, separate the yolk from the egg whites. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Break the pecans in to fine pieces.
  1. 1 cup of pecans
  2. 3 egg whites
  3. a pinch of salt
  4. 1 cup of granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon of vinegar
Put the egg whites in to a stand-up mixer and add salt. Start the mixer on low and gradually increase speed for probably 2-3 minutes until the egg whites lightly bubble.

Slowly increase the speed to medium and gradually add the sugar. Once the sugar is added, slowly add the vinegar, gradually increasing the speed to high-continue mixing for 4-5 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to FOLD (folding is a cooking technique to incorporate light batters into dense ones without deflating the mixture) the pecans in. Drop the batter on to a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper-this is very important so the cookies don't stick to the metal of the cookie sheet-Silpat would be adequate as well.

Put the cookies in to the warm oven-here's the key-TURN THE OVEN OFF! Go to bed and get a good night's sleep-when you come downstairs in the morning-you'll be delighted to find your cookies ready for you to indulge! If you still feel like they are too soft-let them sit in the oven for a few more hours to continue to dry out.

You should be able to make 12-24 cookies!


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