We’ve all been there. Somewhere in the middle of your ninetieth batch of sugar cookies for your coworkers, and neighbors, and friends, and friends neighbors, you hit a breaking point. You’d just stop baking if it weren’t for the fact that those paper plates covered in red and green plastic wrap are still half fucking empty. You’ve used up all your flour. You are, for the first time since Halloween 1992, tired of eating chocolate. The sink is piled tits-high with sugar-caked bowls, spoons, spatulas, paddles, and whisks. You might just call off Christmas all together– and kitchen-strike until the New Year.
The time has come for meringues.
Meringues look impressive but require basically zero maintenance. No more scoops. No more icing. And they finish cooking while you’re in bed. These pretty puffs of minty fluff practically take make themselves. With a whopping 6 ingredients (and a single bowl), you make dozens of perfectly sweet confections that taste like you languished all night.
While they’re one of our absolute favorite cookies (that happen to be great choices for people on gluten, nut, dairy, and fat restricted diets), there’s one potential bummer to watch out for: because Meringues are basically just sugar, eggs, and air, they don’t do great in humid environments. Instead of being a pleasantly chalky, crunchy treat that tastes like freeze dried cotton candy, they get gummy and weird. Bake them the day before serving and, if it’s above freezing, maybe just double up on Alfajores, instead.
- 3 Egg Whites
- ⅓ cup Granulated Sugar
- a Pinch of Salt
- a Pinch of Cream of Tartar
- ½ cup Powdered Sugar
- 3-5 drops Peppermint Extract (YMMV.)
- 1 cup well-crushed Red-and-White Peppermint Hard Candies
- You will also need a piping bag or gallon zip-top bag
- Ready your stand mixer with an impeccably clean bowl and the whisk attachment, or stabilize an impeccably clean bowl on your counter with damp kitchen towel.
- Preheat your oven to 200° and line two baking sheets with parchment. Separate 3 eggs from their Whites. Add them to the clean bowl, along with the Granulated Sugar, Salt, and Cream of Tartar. Set your mixer (stand or hand-held, this is not a time for brute strength) to low, and mix until frothy. Kick up the speed to medium-high and continue mixing until you reach soft peaks.
- What are soft peaks? Stop mixing with the beaters in your Egg Fluff, remove the beaters by pulling the straight up out of the bowl. Turn them over and look at the tip. If the fluff clings and kind of hold its shape (as opposed to running all over), but is still a little saggy and, well, soft: you’ve got soft peaks.
- Once soft peaks are happening, turn your mixer on low. Slowly sift in the Powdered Sugar and add the Peppermint Extract. Flip it back up to medium-high, keep going until you hit stiff peaks.
- Stiff peaks hold their shape completely and make a pretty sharp point that stays almost completely upright– even when you jiggle it a little.
- Transfer the mixture to your piping bag prepared with your favorite tip– or zip-top bag, and then cut off ¼ inch at the tip of one bottom corner. Pipe into puffs that are about 1” wide at the base and 1” tall. They won’t spread (much, if at all), squeeze them ½” apart. Try to make sure they look like clouds, and not weird white poop. Sprinkle with the Crushed Candies and tuck them into the oven. The Candies turn into a pretty, melty mosaic.
- Let the Meringues bake for 2 hours and then kill the oven without even opening the door. Let them hang out for another hour, or up to overnight, to finish cooking. Cool completely before eating or storing. If you try to eat them warm, they will be chewy and weird and make you sad. Trust the recipe: they will be perfect when they’re totally cool.