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Merengue cookies are synonymous for appearing as an easy desert to make due to its limited ingredient list and short baking process. However, the process can very easily go bad if simple steps aren’t followed or if there’s a slight tweak to the process. Therefore, I’ve provided you below with a clear step by step process on making successful merengue cookies and essential tips on what not to do to prevent them from failing. Below are the essential components behind understanding the sciences of the merengue cookie and even the sciences behind the adapted version!
- Preheat the oven to 225F (105C) and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set this aside.
- Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large, completely clean, completely grease-free bowl. (Important to make sure the bowl is completely clean)
- Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer (easiest way to mix but can be hand mixed), stir on low speed until mixture begins to become foamy.
- Increase the speed to high.
- With mixer on high, gradually begin to add sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until sugar is dissolved (15-20 seconds between adding each tablespoon).
- Beat until mixture is thick, shiny, and has increased in volume. Mixture should have what are called stiff peaks and the sugar should be completely dissolved.
- Stir in vanilla extract and any other extract you may like, for this recipe vanilla will be the only extract used. However, if you’re using food coloring, add the food coloring at this point.
- Get a large disposable piping bag with a large tip and move meringue to the piping bag and pipe onto a prepped cookie sheet. (Meringue cookies can be pretty close to each other since they won’t spread, and you want to bake all of the cookies at the same time. Therefore, make sure you make enough space.)
- Bake at 225F (105C) for 1 hour. Turn off the oven once the baking time has passed, and do not open the oven. Leave the oven door closed and allow cookies to cool completely in the oven (1-2 hours) before removing.
- Meringue cookies should come out crisp and can be stored in an airtight container. Keep away from heat and moisture as this can soften your meringues.
Vegan Merengue Cookies
1 cup (240ml; 260g) Aquafaba
1 cup (100g) Superfine Sugar
½ tsp Ground Green Cardamom
½ tsp Cream of Tartar
(Cook time 2 hours 15 minutes)
A quick glimpse at the science behind the key steps in the preparation of merengue cookies
Preheating the oven helps to create an even circulation of heat throughout the oven which is essential when working with meringue cookies as they’re very sensitive to temperature.
Adding the cream of tartar helps in being a stabilizer which is why it’s added early in the process. It helps to keep from over whisking which can occur when too many proteins have been brought together and create a net so tight it begins to squeeze the water from the egg white.
Making sure the bowl is completely clean is vital because the protein molecules in the eggs are very sensitive to their surroundings so if even the slightest bit of an egg yolk is there, it can keep the foam from forming. This occurs because yolks contain fat molecules. Fat molecules push proteins away and don’t aid in the stabilization process. This is also the same case with cooking oils and butters.
Whisking the egg whites creates foam by adding air, creating bubbles and at the same time denaturing the egg proteins. During the denaturing process, hydrophobic amino acids are exposed. These move air bubbles away from the water within the egg whites. When proteins coat air bubbles, hydrophobic amino acids react with one another creating nets and prevent them from being popped. The addition of sugar aids in helping proteins get on the surface of air bubbles and create a more stable foam.
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