Classic Cookies with Modern Twists
Meringues are beautiful to behold and fun to eat. They’re also super simple if you stick to a few rules: 1) Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are free of grease or moisture. 2) Use slightly warm egg whites—preferably older ones— that don't contain even a speck of yolk. 3) Allow ¼ cup sugar for every egg white. 4) Add the sugar slowly for the greatest volume
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix the granulated sugar and vanilla bean seeds, pulsing in short bursts until the sugar is speckled with the vanilla bean. Sift into a small bowl. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a second bowl.
Place the egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a handheld electric mixer. Begin mixing on medium speed, adding the cream of tartar and salt when the whites are frothy. Continue beating for about 2 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to medium-high, and add the vanilla sugar slowly, about 1 tablespoon at a time. After about 2 minutes, or when all of the sugar has been added, increase to high speed, whipping until firm, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until just blended, about 5 seconds. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the whites and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Use a pastry bag fitted with a tip to make the meringues, or simply dollop spoonfuls onto the baking sheets, 1½ inches apart. Bake for about 1½ hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to dry until cool. Store them in an airtight container in order to retain crispness.
WITH A TWIST
Cinnamon Meringues: Omit the vanilla bean. Substitute ¼ cup light brown sugar for ¼ cup of the superfine sugar. Combine the sugars in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse in short bursts until they are finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl. In a second small bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Lightly grate a cinnamon stick over the meringues before baking.
Pistachio-Rosewater Meringues (pictured): Omit the vanilla bean. Finely grind ¼ cup lightly toasted pistachios with the confectioners’ sugar. Substitute ½ teaspoon rosewater for the vanilla extract. Finely chop ¼ cup pistachios and sprinkle over the cookies before baking.
Chocolate-Anise Meringues: Omit the vanilla bean. Sift the confectioners’ sugar with ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon freshly ground aniseed.