I’ve managed to fall in love with Skinnytaste.com. I’ve made two recipes from Gina’s posts, and both were incredible. In fact, I’m planning on making the Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas for the second time tonight, and for the second time I plan on doubling the recipe to ensure delicious leftovers! The friend who was kind enough (thanks, Meghan!) to point me towards this site had mentioned making the Black and White Clouds, and I couldn’t resist having my hand at it.
I have a confession to make. I screwed this up twice before I got something that resembled meringue. TWO times. I’m still sort of in shock over it. I am in no way an expert in the kitchen, but I usually catch on pretty quick when I make a new recipe or learn a new skill, and I know enough about food to know how to fake it. And the first time I do a recipe – I know that the results won’t be as great as it will be during repeat times, but it is usually passable. When I say I screwed up, I’m talking garbage-disposal-start-from-the-beginning-mess-up.
The first time I tried to do it with my stand mixer, and although it made great entertainment for the kids, I had a assumed that the recipe just didn’t call for enough egg whites for my mixer to reach. There is a bit of a gap between the whisk attachment and the bottom of the metal bowl – it doesn’t actually touch. So mid-mixing I pulled the bowl off of the stand mixer and got out my hand mixer. I wasn’t sure what “soft peaks” were exactly, but I was pretty sure that after about 15 minutes of high speed mixing, I wasn’t going to get them. Fail.
I started over, and as I was standing there mixing, I realized that there was a recipe for meringue on the back of the cream of tartar container. It called for more tartar and it said to add the vanilla in right from the start. So I thought that perhaps I’d do a hybrid of the two recipes and added more tartar. Again, 15 minutes of high speed mixing, and no peaks. Not even something that looked remotely peaky. Trashed it. Fail.
I was irritated at this point, so I decided to do a little more research (which took me about 3 minutes. Should have done this in the first place. Shortcut fail). First, I looked at my ingredients. At this point, I’d only made it to the “egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla” portion of the recipe. I knew it wasn’t my vanilla or the cream of tartar, so maybe I was doing something funky with the egg whites. Like using a container of refrigerated egg whites from the store that says right on it “not recommended for use in cooking meringue – heated during the separation process.” Ok. So I’m not a complete failure, I just didn’t see the itsty bitsy fine print on the container. I was punished for trying to take a shortcut. No biggie. Like it is even that difficult to separate the yolk from the white.
Google was able to make a few suggestions, and since I was successful on my third go around, this is what I realized:
1) When making meringue, you should avoid plastic. I don’t know why. It is evil, I suppose. Use glass or metal that is room temperature. As an aside, I wonder if my spatula shouldn’t have been used to fold in the chips? Maybe I should have used a metal spoon?
2) When making meringue, you should make sure that your tools are all squeaky clean and perfectly dry. Any oil residue on your cooking tools could affect your eggie peaks. I had one point against me here on the second try – my tools were all clean, but I didn’t do a good job of drying them.
3) When making meringue, your egg whites need to be at room temperature. Oh, so I shouldn’t use egg whites out of a container straight out of the fridge? Whoops.
So, for try number three I was a good little girl. I was edging painfully close to the girls’ nap time at this point, so I decided to wait until after nap to try again. In the meantime, I took my eggs out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter. I cleaned all of my tools, dried them, and then laid them out to let their dryness dry even more. Super clean, super dry. Super awesome, I say.
After about 30 minutes, I cracked my eggs and separated the whites from the yolk. They were still a little cool, so I decided to just let them hang out in the bowl on the counter for the rest of the girls’ nap. Like I was going to use a hand mixer during nap time anyway. Without further ado, here is the recipe that I had success with:
Recipe: Meringue Cookies (adapted from this recipe: Black and White Cloud Cookies)
Source: The above link, the back of the McCormick’s container, and my noggin.
Yields approximately 30 cookies (depending on your dollop size!)
- 3 egg whites (hi. room temp please)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c sugar (the super refined stuff is good for this, though mine wasn’t)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 300. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- When your egg whites are room temp (har har), mix egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract in a glass or metal bowl with a hand mixer set on high. Beat until soft peaks form (see photo below). This took me about 5 minutes.
- Slowly begin to add in sugar (about 1 Tbs at a time) and continue beating until the soft peaks turn into shiny, pearly, stiff peaks (see photo above). The sugar will be dissolved, and the mixture will look smooth and glossy.
- Fold in chocolate chips!
- Drop tablespoons onto lined baking sheets. I used two tablespoons (not the proper measurement spoons… the spoons we use for cereal), one to scoop up the mixture from the bowl, and the other to plop the mixture from the first spoon onto the sheet.
- Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the cookies have set and are dry. I use a wooden skewer to check my cakes, so I just used a skewer pushed gently into the side of the cookie to see how much it had dried. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.