A note from SillySimple: This post is written by Mr. Silly Simple who is awesome at breaking down complicated recipes into not so complicated ones. I can attest that these are very delicious treats.
Somewhere between cookies and confections lies the ethereal decadence that is meringue. They’re relatively simple to make with just a few key ingredients (egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and sugar), and are simply perfect with a good quality cup of coffee (or hot chocolate, if that’s your thing).
Meringues also allow me to indulge in flavors that would otherwise be downright embarrassing if I were caught sampling straight out of a jar or bottle… like orange blossom honey or pure maple syrup. Mmm…. maple syrup.
My personal favorite is the pure light syrup from Berkshire Sweet Gold, which isn’t overpoweringly sweet, and has subtle notes of vanilla. My wife and I first picked up a bottle at a local craft fair after talking with the absolute best sales person ever (if you want me to buy your wares, be ready to nerd it up and explain the science behind your products). We have no regrets, it is absolutely delicious maple syrup.
Here’s a modified basic meringue recipe that satisfies my sweet tooth without resorting to chugging liquid gold straight from a bottle. Alternatively, you can substitute your favorite honey or syrup for the maple syrup if you so prefer.
2 large fresh egg whites*
1/8 tsp salt (yes, that’s the same salt cellar that Alton Brown uses on Good Eats, he’s my idol)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar**
9 Tbsp maple syrup
* – A note on eggs. When making meringues, it’s best to have the freshest eggs you can get. Eggs typically start their their shelf life as grade AA (though there are exceptions), and go down to grade A, then B over time. As they age, the albumen thins, and yolk membranes weaken. Because we’ll be adding quite a bit of moisture to this recipe in the form of maple syrup, a stronger albumen is needed to maintain stiff peaks. If you don’t have super-fresh eggs, don’t worry, you can still make meringues; they’ll just be a bit softer, so you probably won’t be able to use a pastry bag with them.
** – On cream and copper. If you’ve splurged on a large copper bowl, you can actually skip the cream of tartar altogether, as the copper will stabilize and promote creamier foams that are more difficult to over-beat. I prefer the cheaper and easier-to-store option of cream of tartar to achieve the same effect, primarily because I can’t justify spending the money on a copper bowl since there are very few things for which it is appropriate to use.
1. Preheat the oven to 250F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a very clean, large, NON-PLASTIC bowl (fat molecules bond easily with plastic, and can bring all kinds of unpleasant flavors to your meringue), beat the egg whites until they’re foamy.
3. Add the salt and cream of tartar, and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Slowly add your maple syrup. Once it’s integrated, turn up the speed on your mixer and beat until the meringue is thick and glossy, and forms stiff peaks (or as stiff as they’ll get… see “note on eggs,” above).
4. Drop heaping spoonfuls of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, flattening them out a bit if they’re too ball-like.
5. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the unopened oven for 2 hours, or until they’re dry and crisp throughout. Remove from the oven and store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen meringues.
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