Recently I have been on a binge of passion curd, lemon curd, lime curd, Meyer lemon curd, etc., etc. If you sit too long around me, I’ll add some egg yolk, butter and sugar to you and turn you into curd. Incidentally, most of them have been very tasty and a slice of toast is a perfect foil to comparison taste.
Well, what does one do(besides freeze them, of course) with the surfeit of egg whites that inevitably results? I recalled several versions of meringue cookies in different books that called for simply egg whites and sugar with added flavorings. The one I settled on was Rose’s Aunt Margaret’s Star-spangled Meringues from Rose’s Christmas Cookies which includes some delicious little shards of chocolate, so what’s not to like?
Digging deeper into the recesses of my mind, I remembered a particularly beautiful piped cookie in Bruce Healy & Paul Bugat’s book, The French Cookie Book . I decided to use Rose’s formula(I use the term ‘recipe’ and ‘formula’ interchangeably, since I see recipes as being scientific formulas with edible results) and Bruce’s techniques to pipe the cookies into the figure 8 formation Paul illustrated.
I was all set, except Bruce calls for you to cook the meringues on water-soaked plywood sheets, which I did not have(I do now!), so a silpat-lined baking sheet would have to suffice. The cookie went together very easily and the piping was not complicated following Bruce’s exacting instructions(he is, after all, a theoretical physicist, so his formulas are exact) and Paul’s line-drawings.
They cook for a while at a very low temperature and you do not want them to brown. When you can easily push them on the baking sheet with no resistance as they slide, they are done. The taste was delicate and satisfying with just enough gentle crisp to complete the epicurean experience.
The shape could be diminished or enlarged by changing the size of the pastry tip.
I thought the shape was visually very pleasing.
If the photos are making your mouth water, and you’re ready to try your hand with creating some of these little gems, the internet has many recipes for meringue cookies. You can use a plain zip-top bag for a pastry bag and simply snip the tip and practice piping some blobs of egg white kisses into bite size morsels.
Try not to make them on a very humid day. High humidity wreaks havoc on beaten egg whites.
Every time I reach for my copy of Rose’s Christmas Cookies (which is literally falling apart from overuse), I can’t help but remember the book signing when it was released. The Jewish doctor in front of me in line, asked Rose, “When’s a nice Jewish girl like you gonna write a Jewish cookie book?” Her reply, which makes me laugh even today some 20+ years later, “When I’m tired of making money!” Classic Rose and so is her book. It has seen me through every holiday season since 1990(and some other times of year like May, too!).
Toujours bon appétit!
© Kyle A. Nelson