As a kid, I used to love my grandmum’s meringue cookies. I would sit on the tall stool in her kitchen, watching her dollop the sweetened whipped egg whites onto baking sheets as I munched on crispy Bugles and dry-roasted peanuts, the snacks I got to eat only my grandparents’ house. Using her fingers, Grandmum would then poke chocolate chips or pieces of crystallized ginger into the pillowy unbaked meringues before sliding them into the oven.
While they baked in the just-warm oven for a couple of hours, I filled my time by categorizing my dad’s old marble collection (sparkly ones, colored ones and so on) or banging out Sound of Music songs on the old piano in the basement, checking back for a meringue status report every several minutes.
“Not yet, dear. You have a little while longer to wait,” Grandmum would patiently tell me.
In the impatient mind of a young girl, the waiting felt torturous. Then came the call from the kitchen.
“Dara, it’s time!”
I ran up the basement stairs, tripping over my own feet in my haste. I started with one of each…one chocolate meringue and one ginger meringue. It had to be even. They were both equally good and I couldn’t play favorites.
My teeth broke through the crispy outside crust into the tender meringue and chocolate or ginger inside. They were heavenly little treats. Even though the taste will always stay with me, perhaps what is more important is that I feel Grandmum’s warmth and sparkle each time I make meringues for my own kids.
I was inspired by the colors of the holiday season when I saw pomegranate arils in the grocery store. (If you have a whole pomegranate, How to: Seed a Pomegranate will help you get out those arils easily.) The red pomegranate and beautiful green of chopped pistachios seem to be nature’s way of celebrating the holidays. Natural and beautiful.
The meringues are served on some of my favorite serving dishes, made by QSquared NYC (you may remember seeing some of their beautiful dishes when I made this butternut squash salad and these healthy pizza crostini). The serving platter (and all of the awesome giveaway items below) is from their Diamond collection and the small plates are from their Ruffle collection.
I know several of my friends and family who would love to receive some of QSquared NYC’s dishes for holiday gifts!
The tricks to making meringues are simple:
- Be sure that the mixer bowl and whisk attachment (or bowl and hand-held mixer) are clean and completely dry.
- The egg whites need to be whipped until they form stiff peaks. This means that when you pull the mixer/whisk attachment out of the mixture, the egg whites form peaks that do not flop over at the top.
- Even though the prep time may seem long for the meringues, most of it is inactive. They bake for 1 hour in a warm oven and then rest in the oven (turned off) for 1 1/2 hours.
- If you’d like your meringues to look a little fancier, use an icing piping bag and tip, like I show in How to: Make Meringue Shells.
Light Meringues with Pomegranate & Pistachios
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoon plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 3/4 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a bowl with a hand mixer). Mix on high until the egg whites are foamy.
- Continue to mix on high speed while gradually adding the sugar. Whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Do not underbeat.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter (or edge of a glass), trace 12 circles onto the parchment paper. Turn over the parchment paper so that the pencil marks are on the underside of the paper. They should still be visible from the top side.
- Divide the egg white mixture evenly between the 12 circles, using the back of a small spoon to make a shallow well in the middle of each circle.
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven for an additional 1 ½ hours so that the meringues dry completely.
- Gently peel the meringues off of the parchment. Cool completely. Set aside 6 meringues for this dessert and freeze the remaining 6 meringues in an air-tight container for future use.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt and agave nectar (or honey) until combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the meringues.
- Top each filled meringue with pomegranate arils and pistachios. Serve.