I am not a chef. I’m not a particularly terrible cook either, but I would hesitate to say that I’m talented in the kitchen. In fact, when I was looking for a recipe to include in our first newsletter I made sure to pick one that I could write about in an entertaining yet lighthearted fashion should I mess it up completely.
I am not above offering myself as a cautionary tale.
The good news is that I was successful. Nothing caught on fire. No cats were traumatized. Even though the meringues smelled like those rose-shaped soaps you find in powder rooms during their construction, they were tasty and sweet after baking. I will be making more meringues in the future (and I will bring enough to share).
The recipe is from allrecipes.com (contributed by user chikalin), and it yields approximately 3 dozen half-dollar-sized meringues.
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rose extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
Step By Step Instructions
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
- Place sugar, water, rose extract, cardamom, salt, and food coloring in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer the mixture for a minute or two, stirring constantly, and very slowly pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites, beating constantly with electric mixer on high speed. Beat until the syrup is incorporated and the meringue is stiff and shiny.
- Drop by spoonfuls or pipe into rosettes with a star tip onto the prepared baking sheet. If you don’t have a pastry bag, spoon the foam into a plastic baggie and snip off a tiny bit of one of corner for your own makeshift solution.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the meringues are hard, 1 to 1 1/2 hours; turn off the oven, and allow them to cool inside the oven to finish baking the insides.
Tips and Pointers
- No rose extract? You can substitute rosewater. 1 teaspoon rose extract = 1 tablespoon rosewater. If substitute this, reduce the water in the recipe. Too much water will cause the meringues to leak when they’re baked and form bubbles at their base. It doesn’t affect the taste, but the meringues aren’t as attractive.
- Don’t leave out the cream of tartar. I discovered that this white, powdery mystery ingredient is a byproduct of wine-making. It’s slightly acidic, and it helps stabilize those air bubbles you create when you beat the eggs into stiff peaks. Speaking of which…
- Don’t under-whip your egg whites. “Stiff peaks” are the third stage of egg-white beating (after “soft peaks” and “firm peaks”). I looked at guides and photos online to help me determine what stiff peaks looked like. When you take the beaters out of the eggy foam and turn them upside-down, the egg white peaks on the beaters won’t flop over or collapse. They will point straight up like a punk rocker’s spikey hair-do.
- Use a glass or metal bowl, not plastic, for your egg whites. To get angelic, pillowy egg whites, you want absolutely zero fat or other greasy residue on your utensils. Plastic tends to retain oils.
- No yolk. Not one drop of egg yolk should be in your egg whites. The fat will prevent you from getting the volume you need for lofty, crispy, crunchy meringues.
- Room temperature egg whites whip up easier than cold ones.
- Don’t bake on a high humidity day. It really does affect how fluffy you can get those egg whites.
- Your baked meringues may brown a little bit. Don’t sweat it. Really. If people look down their noses at your slightly-toasty meringues, that just means more meringues for you and your comrades!