Who can resist these beautiful little crispy, yet melting in the mouth, cookies? Not many, I think, and maybe that is why they were named “kisses”. The kisses are great served on their own, sandwiched with various creams or lemon curd, or used as a wonderful decoration for cakes. In short, they are a must in every kitchen.
I’m aware of the fact that working with meringue has a reputation of being “difficult”, however, it is one of the most basic and simple things to make. Once you master preparing it, you can move forward to many other desserts and cakes that are based on it. So it’s worthwhile to start practicing.
There are few, but important, rules to follow when preparing meringue:
* Always use fresh eggs, at room temperature.
* Egg whites will not whip in the presence of fat, even a very small amount of it. So first, make sure the bowl is thoroughly clean from fat. Then, remember that the egg yolk is fatty, so make sure to separate the eggs carefully.
* Egg whites whip better with a bit of acidity – that is why we add the vinegar. Don’t skip this important step. (In case you’re worried, it doesn’t effect the flavor.)
* A small amount of salt adds a bit of balance to the sugar.
* Adding a bit of cornstarch helps keep the baked meringue crisp longer.
* Humidity is meringues’ enemy. Aim to bake it on dry days, and when your kitchen if not filled with steam from other dishes.
* Save the egg yolks to prepare lemon curd (check THIS RECIPE), homemade mayonnaise or to thicken sauces.
Makes: about 60 “kisses”
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 2 hours
Resting time: 2 hours
1 cup fine sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
4 XL fresh egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla (preferably vanilla paste)
¼ tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 200F (93C). Line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the cornstarch.
3. Carefully separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl, fitted with the whipping hook. Add the vinegar and start whipping on medium-low speed.
4. When large bubbles start to form, increase the mixer speed to medium and start adding the sugar slowly. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whipping until a firm and shiny meringue is formed. In the last stage of whipping, add the vanilla and salt.
5. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a star tip, with the meringue. Pipe about 60 1.2” (3cm) “kisses” over the baking paper. Lower the oven temperature to 190F (88C).
6. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and keep in the oven for 2 more hours, to dry the cookies completely. The cookies can be kept, at room temperature in a dry area, for up to 3 days.