These cookies are based on a light, crunchy meringue (which is fat-free and gluten-free, by the way) to which peppermint extract and a bit of color have been added. They are a nice alternative to the abundance of rich, buttery holiday cookie recipes and they are easy to make. As with all meringue, just make sure your bowl and beaters are scrupulously clean; any residual fat or grease will keep the meringue from forming.
If this image looks familiar, it’s because I was inspired by the December 2011 cover of Bon Appétit. The issue arrived, and there was this stunning, deep red background with a close-up of striped meringue cookies, and I knew right then I had to “bake the cover.” When I showed my version to the editorial staff, they said, “How did you do that?!” I was imagining the magazine photo shoot and how involved it probably had been. I went to Michael’s, bought red craft paper, put it on the table under and behind the dessert and voila! The meringue cookies are easy, too. The dramatic striped effect happens right in the pastry bag.
Images: Dédé Wilson
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Gel or liquid red food coloring
- Pastry bag
- ½-inch round tip such as an Ateco #806
- Position racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- Beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar and beat until firm peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and peppermint extract.
- Dot food color over surface of meringue but do not stir or agitate in any way. If using liquid, simply squeeze droplets. If using gel, use a toothpick to place dots here and there.
- Use a large soupspoon to carefully place meringue into a pastry bag by fitted with the ½-inch tip. Pipe 1½- to 2-inch “kisses” onto prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. The stripes will make themselves! It is a random process, but it always works out well if you allow the white meringue and the red dots of color to remain distinct before spooning into the pastry bag.
- Bake meringues for about 2 to 2½ hours or until completely dry. Cool pans on racks completely before trying to remove the cookies. They continue to crisp as they cool. Store cookies in single layers in airtight containers up to 2 days.
- In lieu of a tip, you can use a standard pastry bag coupler with a plain round opening. Simply place inside pastry bag with no tip and pipe away.
- It is very easy to vary these by color and flavor. Try orange color and orange extract; yellow color/lemon extract; pink color/rose extract; green color/pistachio extract; purple color/lavender extract, etc.