Whenever I make ice cream from scratch, we usually have lots of leftover egg whites to use up. Meringues (or as my nephew calls them, “little pavlovas”) are little cookies made with basically just egg whites and sugar, with a little vinegar and salt added to help the mixture hold its structure when whipped. In this recipe we’ve folded in some crushed peppermint sticks, leftover from Christmas. Mini chocolate chips can be added as well. What I love about making these meringues is that you just put them in the hot oven, turn off the heat, and walk away for a few hours. Come back to sweet little meringue cookies, light and airy that practically melt in your mouth.
It's easiest to separate the eggs when they are cold. Since you'll want the egg whites to be at room temperature before whipping them (they will get more lift that way), for best results, separate your eggs at least a half hour before starting this recipe, and leave egg whites out to come to room temp.
Make sure that all bowls, hands, and utensils that might touch the eggs are clean and free from oils.
For best results, avoid making on a humid or rainy day.
- 2-3 Tbsp thoroughly crushed peppermint candies*
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar (use superfine if you have it)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
* Pulverize candies by placing them in sealed, doubled-up freezer bags. Use a meat mallet (smooth side) or hammer to gently pound them into a fine powder.
1 Preheat oven to 300°F.
2 Put egg whites into a standup mixer, add a pinch of salt. Start the mixer on low, gradually increasing the speed to medium until quite foamy and soft peaks can just begin to form, about 2-3 minutes. Egg white bubbles should be small and uniform.
3 Increase the speed to medium high and slowly add the sugar, a little (1-2 teaspoons) at a time. Continue to whip egg whites and sugar for a few minutes, then add the vinegar. Increase the speed to the highest setting and whip the egg whites until they are glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, about 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the crushed peppermints (and the mini chocolate chips, if you are using).
5 Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. If you are using parchment paper, you can put a dollop of the meringue mixture in the corners of the pans before placing the parchment paper on them, to help secure the parchment paper in place (pastry chef's trick, thank you, Shuna). Either use a spoon to drop teaspoonfuls of the meringue mixture onto the cookie sheets (spaced an inch apart) or use a pastry piping bag (can make one with a plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off) to pipe mounds (1 1/2 inches wide) onto the lined cookie sheet.
6 Put the cookie sheets in the 300°F oven, close the door. Wait for one minute only, then turn the oven OFF. Do not open the door for another 3 hours. You can leave them in the oven overnight. The meringues will gently cook in the residual heat of the oven. When done, the meringues will be lightly crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside. If they are still a little chewy after 3 hours, just let them dry out for a few more hours.
Store in an airtight container.