Cooking with Facts

~a blog for those who want the info., the ingredients, and an ideal run-down~ This week: Meringue Hearts.

Cooking+with+Facts

Sarah Menanix

My youngest brother requested that, for his upcoming birthday, I make him a special treat for which he could bring into class- mainly so that he and all of his friends could have (what they felt was) some well-needed sugar at lunch time.  I, personally, did not believe that a bunch of little fourth graders should have sugar in the middle of the school day with classes still yet to come and couldn’t help but groan at how much strain I would be putting on a poor teacher who would soon enough be sprouting gray hair.

Now, most birthday-snack recipes require literal cups of sugars and chocolates, so as I looked through website after website. I could find not even one food blueprint that filled my requirements; I wanted it to be visually appealing (easy on the eyes), good to the taste and with as little sugar possible involved.

Upon realizing that the search for ‘birthday sweets’ was getting me nowhere, I decided to look at plain ol’ baking recipes to see if I could find something worthwhile there.

I found nothing of the sort.

Finally, I cautiously took my chances with a site (this site- www.snixykitchen.com) and was successful. Sort of.

I did not find a birthday snack recipe or normal baking recipe, I found a VALENTINE’S DAY recipe. There are two problems with that; one being that everything for Valentine’s day is pink or red and covered in hearts, which is not very appropriate for a little boy and his little, boy friends (note the space), and two being that it is nowhere near time for Valentine’s day varieties of pastries.. no matter the fact millions of shelves across the  U.S.A. are coated in hearts and roses.

Little b-day boy Xander; however, insisted I make the recipe that came from this website; http://www.snixykitchen.com/2014/02/13/pink-heart-meringues-a-baking-giveaway/. Most likely because he saw the immense troubles I had just finding it and knew how happy I had been to finally discover a recipe that passed all three requirements. He agreed to bring meringue hearts in for the entire class on his birthday. I can only say that my adoration for him grew respectively with that occurrence.

The beautifully made raspberry meringue hearts had a distinct taste that can only be described as so; condensed cotton candy bites with a crunchy and easily breakable exterior. My brother and his array of friends truly enjoyed them, to say the least.

Recipe: Meringue Hearts

AUTHOR: Sarah Menanix

YIELDS: 2 dozen medium-sized hearts (more if you make them smaller)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ cup fine baker’s sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 smidgen of cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon Rodelle’s vanilla extract (or other extract flavor of choice – almond? lemon?!)
  • Optional: 1 small dab of pink gel food dye (or 1 drop red food coloring)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºF.
  2. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a double boiler set over simmer water (or in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Whisk mixture continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine metal sieve into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  4. Whisk on low-speed, gradually increasing to high-speed until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). Add vanilla extract (or extract of choice) and, if using, food dye, and continue beating on high-speed until stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes).
  5. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip (or, as I do, a Ziploc bag with a hole cut in the bottom corner for a pastry tip)
  6. Pipe 2-inch hearts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. **Note: I then used a toothpick to adjust the shape of the hearts
  7. Bake until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, about 1¼ to 1½ hours (Taste one after 1¼ hours to check whether they’re done), and remember: do not open the oven door during the first hour the meringues are baking). After the meringues are done baking, turn the oven off and open the door to let meringues cool slowly in the oven (or eat right away because they’re so super yummy you just can’t wait!).