When I am planning my list of cookies to bake for the holidays, I always think about how my assortment will look when laid out on a platter. For maximum appeal, I think it’s so important to have a variety of flavors, textures and styles represented. That’s why I love these cool, crunchy Peppermint Meringue Kisses – not only are they adorable, but they offer a texture and flavor contrast to most of my holiday favorites. And they are low-fat! They also happen to be very easy to make, only requiring a little patience to paint lines of red food coloring in the pastry bag and a few hours of drying time in the oven. If you want to really get fancy, dip the bottoms of the meringues in tempered white chocolate (or candy melts) and sprinkle the chocolate with red sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy.
Makes about 56 meringue kisses
Special equipment: small unused paint brush with a pointed tip
- Christmas red gel food coloring
- 4 large (120 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Small pinch of salt
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Position 2 racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Fit a disposable pastry bag with a large open star tip (I used a ½-inch “French star” tip, Ateco #867) and fold the top of the bag over and down a few inches. Dip a small, unused paintbrush with a pointed tip in the food coloring. Starting at the top of the pastry tip inside the bag, brush a line of food coloring from the tip to the cuffed part of the bag. (You may need to go over the line a second time in areas to make sure it’s continuous.) Repeat with 2 more evenly spaced lines. Set the bag aside while you make the meringue.
- Place the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping the whites on low speed, slowly increasing the speed to high and whipping until the whites are frothy and just beginning to hold soft peaks. Now begin to add the sugar, sprinkling it in very slowly, a small spoonful at a time (this is important, because you want the sugar to dissolve completely, and this takes time – be patient). Once you’ve added all the sugar, add the vanilla and peppermint extract and continue to beat the meringue at high speed until it is thick, glossy and holds stiff peaks. (You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the meringue budging at all.)
- Fill the prepared bag with the meringue; try to spoon it directly into the center so as not to smudge the food coloring (though some smudging is inevitable). Pipe 1-inch diameter kisses onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Put the meringues in the oven and bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for at least 2 hours, or overnight, until dry to the touch. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. (If the cookies soften up during storage, dry them out in a 200˚F oven for 15 minutes or so.)