Cooking Lessons from Kylie: Basic Meringue

Hello Readers!

I’ve been teaching high school cooking classes lately, and it’s gotten me thinking about basic cooking skills. Specifically, skills that people think are difficult and make a point to stay away from, but are actually super easy.

Number one on this list is meringue. Mostly because I have a ton of egg whites sitting around due to making curds, but hey, it’s as good a starting point as any!

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Oh, how I love meringue – it’s dreamy appearance, melt in the mouth texture, and the overall versatility of the medium all combine to make me smile. And a smile is always a good thing, right?

Simple!

So I decided to share the recipe I use and break it down. Follow along and I bet you’ll fall in love with it too!

First start with egg whites. You want them to be completely free of yolk or the meringue won’t form. Why? Let’s ask my food science background:

When making meringues, the most important part of the egg white is the proteins found in it. Proteins are made of hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrophobic (water fearing) molecules – basically, one attracts water and one repels it. When you start beating air into your egg whites, the hydrophilic molecules jump up and cling to the water present in the egg white (about 90 percent of it!) and the hydrophobic molecules run straight into the waiting arms of the air molecules. This helps form air bubbles and puffs the meringues up. However, if the egg yolk, which contains fat molecules, is included, the fat molecules butt in and stop the bubbles from forming. No bubbles, no meringue.

Add your egg whites to a metal bowl. Don’t use a plastic one, because no matter how well you cleaned it last time you used it, it might still have a couple of fat molecules hanging around. Next, add in cream of tartar or another acid.

Remember those bubbles I was talking about before? Well, as we all know, bubbles eventually pop, which will lead to a deflated and gross meringue. Add an acid, such as cream of tartar, and bam – stable, no pop bubbles.

Look close! Can you see the bubbles?

Look close! Can you see the bubbles?

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together at high speed until foamy. It’ll take a while, but be patient. The wait is well worth the reward.

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Once your meringue has reached a nice foamy stage, start adding sugar. I recommend going one tablespoon at a time. Keep beating until the mixture is thick, glossy, and forms stiff peaks. To determine if your meringue is ready, give it a stir and lift up the whisk or beater. If the resulting folds in on itself but has a nice pointy tip, it’s ready. Don’t over beat!

The picture below isn’t quite there yet.

Not Ready

This is better:
IMG_0249Once your meringues have reached this stage, transfer (gently!) to a pastry bag. I don’t have a pastry bag, so I use a Ziploc with the corner cut out. If you have a pastry tip, you can use that to make it pretty, but it’s not necessary. Pipe your meringues out onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake. Don’t peek! Turn the oven off after an hour and a half at 275°F, then leave them in for another hour or so. Meringues are sometimes called “forgotten cookies” because they can be left in the oven for a while after finishing.

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As it says above, this is a recipe for basic meringues. You can add flavoring (ginger, anyone?), mini chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts – It’s an open canvas! This can also be used as a base for Pavlova, Baked Alaska, Meringue Pies, and Eaton Mess, among many tasty others.

Enjoy!

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Basic Meringue

Ingredients

3 Egg Whites

¼ tsp Cream of Tartar

¾ c Sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper,
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until foamy.
  3. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy. Do not under beat.
  4. Transfer meringue into a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. Pipe out as desired.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn off oven and leave door closed 1 hour. Finish cooling outside the oven for 2 hours.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello Dear Readers!

Do you ever get a craving for sweets? I know I certainly do, especially after working a shift in the pool. Something about the chlorine and the kiddos might be triggering a need for sugar. Maybe? Probably not. I do have a sweet tooth, though. So, to combat these sugar cravings, I decided to make cookies! Counterproductive? Maybe. Delicious? Totally.

Yum!

Yum!

The recipe I used is by Amy McCoy of Tiny Farmhouse. I found the recipe in her gorgeous cookbook “Poor Girl Gourmet”, but more on that later. Definitely give her a look! I like her recipe because it makes a small but delicious batch of cookies – just what I was looking for.

I’ve made a few modifications to the recipe, including adding cloves and whole wheat flour. Oh, and more chocolate, too!

Lots of chocolate!

Lots of chocolate!

Start by combining your flours in a medium sized bowls. I substituted whole wheat flour for the last two tablespoons of all purpose flour in this recipe because I like whole wheat, but you can use just all purpose if you want.  Add in baking soda, salt, and cloves and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your butter and sugars. Turbinado sugar has a larger grain than regular granulated sugar, so the texture of the dough will be slightly grainer. Don’t worry though – the graininess disappears during baking and the flavor is amazing!

I cut the butter into tablespoons for easier integration.

I cut the butter into tablespoons for easier integration.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado Sugar

After the butter and sugars have become light and fluffy, add in your egg and vanilla. I find that vanilla is pretty forgiving, so you could add more in if you’d like.

Egg and vanilla

Egg and vanilla

Add in the flour mixture about a fourth cup at a time until well combined. I found that the dough was a little dry here, so I added in about a tablespoon of water to help it stick together. You could also use milk if you wanted to.

Now for the fun part! Add in the chocolate chips! I used half a bag of mini chocolate chips and half a bag of regular semi sweet chocolate chips, because that’s what I had laying around. You can use whatever type you want.

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Delicious!

Spoon onto your cookie sheets and bake at 350°F until golden brown. Mine took about 12 minutes.

If you are using two cookie sheets, make sure to rotate your pans halfway through.

About a Tablespoon's worth of dough

About a Tablespoon’s worth of dough

Allow to cool on cooling racks and enjoy!

 

Share and enjoy!

Share and enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c All Purpose Flour

2 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour

½ tsp Baking Soda

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Ground Cloves

8 Tbsp (1 Stick) Butter

½ c Turbinado Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)

½ c Brown Sugar, packed

1 large Egg

1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract

½ bag Mini Chocolate Chips

½ bag Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

 

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract to butter mixture, beat until well combined.
  1. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture ¼ cup at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl in between until all the flour is mixed in. If necessary, add a small amount of water or milk if the dough is too dry.
  2. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  3. Spoon the dough out onto two cookie sheets. Dough balls should contain about ¾ of a tablespoon of dough.
  4. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, switching the top sheet to the bottom and the bottom sheet to the top halfway through. Cookies are done when golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.
  6. Enjoy!