Buried Treasure Meringues: stuff it!

DSC_4123

It’s estimated Americans will purchase 58 million pounds of chocolate in honor of Valentine’s Day this year.

And close to 200 million roses (the vast majority red) will join those millions of pounds of chocolate in the homes of lucky Valentine gift recipients around the nation.

Chocolate and red roses, the classic pairing.

Or, for the true foodies among you, chocolate and red cherries – an equally unbeatable combination.

Perhaps you’ve made meringues before. This whipped egg white and sugar confection, baked until dry and incredibly crunchy, is the doughty old lady of Candyland – think Cousin Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, during whose era meringues were considered quite elegant.

But if you’ve made meringues in the past, I’ll bet it hasn’t been very recently. They’re just SO simple that, like that mother of all butter cookies, shortbread, they sometimes get lost among their more aggressively flavored peers. Like mocha brownies. Or salty caramel pecan pie.

Then again, maybe you’ve never made meringues. Well, guess what? You’re about to see just how easy it is.

And to realize that meringues, when holding a hidden “treasure” of cherries or chocolate, are a perfect complement to the usual Valentine’s Day flowers and candy.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (first choice), or lightly grease it.

Click anywhere on this block of pictures to enlarge them to full size – this will work for any of the photos you see in this blog post.

Place the following in a large bowl:

2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
dash of salt

Beat, preferably with a whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. At first the whites will be foamy, with lots of bubbles (upper left); but gradually the bubbles will shrink and the whites will stiffen (upper right).

With the mixer going, sprinkle in 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) granulated sugar, continuing to beat until the meringue is thick and glossy.

When you lift the whisk, the meringue will form a fairly stiff (but not dry) peak.

Pipe a base of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, using a pastry bag and star tip.

Place a candied cherry, or a couple of chunks of chocolate, atop the base. I like Peter’s Burgundy chunks; to me, their flavor strikes a tasty balance between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate.

Pipe meringue to cover the cherry or chocolate.

If you don’t want to pipe meringues, simply drop by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet. A tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

Place a cherry or chocolate in the center of each meringue; cover or leave exposed, your choice.

Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 hours. They’ll expand VERY slightly, and will lose their wet look, taking on a dry, satiny sheen.

Turn the oven off, and leave them in the turned-off oven until they’re completely cool, 3 hours or more. This is a good cookie to make in the evening; they can be left in the oven (with the heat turned off) overnight

Here are the meringues after 12 hours (overnight) in the turned-off oven. They’re not brown; but their matte finish has a slight sheen, making them quite handsome.

Store airtight at room temperature; don’t refrigerate or freeze. As long as the weather’s dry, they’ll stay nice and crisp fairly indefinitely (within reason).

Final note: What to do with those two leftover egg yolks?

•Add to the dog’s or cat’s food; they’ll be happy. (Note to pet owners worried about high cholesterol, fat, bacterial contamination, or any other possible downside to feeding your pet raw egg yolks: don’t do it.)
•Enjoy at breakfast: add along with whole eggs to a scramble; or pancake, waffle, or French toast batter.
•Add to most any baked good calling for eggs; yolks are high in fat, so they’ll add tenderness to whatever you’re making.

And remember: bookmark this blog for your Valentine’s Day baking!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Buried Treasure Meringues.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. leebaker

    There are tons of things to do with egg yolks, like hollandaise for your broccoli, stirred custard for your fruit cup, and lemon sauce for your gingerbread. I always have whites in the freezer!

    Reply
  2. clifcon11

    These sound so easy to make and would be a great addition to my Valentine’s day dinner plan. One question though, can I add maybe a 1/2 tsp of clear vanilla or almond flavoring to the beaten egg whites?

    You would want to be careful adding alcohol-based flavorings to egg whites as it might break them down. I would add a vanilla sugar or non-alcohol based almond flavoring instead. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  3. "daisy in nj"

    Thanks.for reminding me about meringues! I had forgotten how easy (and good) they are! One question for us truly lazy bakers: Is there an equivalent amount of meringue powder one could employ in place of the fresh egg whites? (Apologies, as if the recipe were not simple enough…for shame…) Thank you.

    Daisy, I’d just follow the recipe on the jar of meringue powder – I don’t have any here, so can’t give you a specific answer, but they should certainly provide you with a recipe on the jar. If not, call our bakerr’s hotline, 802-649-3717; they should be able to help you. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  4. takefive34

    Now would be about the only time of year (except when the A/C is on for six or so months here in FL!!!) to make these meringues……and I’m definitely tempted!!!

    And now for something off-topic – I was watching an episode of “Barefoot Contessa” today where she was making a recipe calling for flour and, yes, she was using King Arthur!!! Thought all the folks at KAF would probably give her a unanimous virtual thumbs-up……I know I did!!!

    Hooray for the shout out to KAF!! Thanks for the heads’ up! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  5. lyna

    I have a container in the freezer with 1 1/2 cups of egg whites (homemade ice cream last spring–yum). Would thawed egg white work for meringues? How many tablespoons or ounces equal 2 whites? Would it be better to make an angel food cake with them?
    These meringues look delicious, and easy.

    Yes, Lyna, they should work well once thawed. 1 large egg white weighs 1 ounce, so 2 whites is 2 ounces. And yes, unless you want LOTS of meringues, an angel food cake would certainly be a more efficient use of that number of egg whites. Or split them up – use some for the cake, some for meringues. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  6. memphisrn

    I made some meringues for a dinner party and used some espresso powder and some little cappucino chips. Served them with some brownie bites topped with whipped cream. I thought they were yummy and just enough after a big dinner. All recipes and products from KAF. The other nice thing was that I made both several weeks before the dinner. Thank you!

    We’d love to know where you stored the meringues – this will help other bakers manage their kitchen time for big dinner events. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  7. elliecooks55

    can i use splenda instead of sugar, i’m on a low carb diet…(choc in my view is low carb).

    We didn’t try Splenda in our test bakes, but do note their website has some meringue recipes that use the Splenda Sugar Blend. You might try one of their tested recipes with the buried treasure concept. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  8. memphisrn

    I stored the meringues in a tupperware container in a cool bedroom for several weeks and they were fine…looked like they could have been good for several more. Really couldn’t tell the difference from when I took them out of the oven.
    Excellent! Thanks for sharing. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Bridgid

    Splenda by itself doesn’t make good meringues. (I speak from experience.) The sugar adds tenderness and a bit of volume, which splenda doesn’t do. I always add vanilla extract (pure not imatiation stuff) unless I am making another flavor, usually mint, and I use that flavor extract. I have been making them for years to great success. If you make them with powdered sugar instead of regular, you get a very chewy, not dried cookie. I LOVE THESE! Thanks for posting. :)
    I loves me a nice chewy meringue. Thanks for the reminder about mint ones too. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. elark1

    would it be possible to use the pasteurized egg whites found in the diary section of the grocery?
    Great question. Quite often, the liquid pasteurized eggs don’t whip up very well, they don’t get as nice and fluffy as “real” whites. Dried whites might also be something to look into, those have a better rep for whipping up nicely. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. AJQ

    I’d forgotten about these! A former co-worker tinted and piped her meringues in little fat heart shapes. I think that’d be lovely for Valentine’s Day.

    Reply
  12. jennaz

    Why would you want to use the pasteurized egg whites? You’re going to put them in a 200 degree oven, so they will pasteurize anyway.

    Have you all seen this trick for separating egg whites? So simple I keep asking, “why didn’t I think of that?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AirVOuTN_M

    I don’t see anywhere in this recipe that you must use pasteurized egg whites. Fresh egg whites are the way to go. Thanks for the “you tube” link on separating an egg. Happy baking! Betsy@KAF

    Reply
  13. Tyler S

    I’ve fallen in love with meringues like these, but I’ve hit a wall. I can buy delicious chocolate meringues at the store, but when I try to make them at home, the cocoa (being a fatty powder) destroys the nice foam I’ve produced. I’ve tried adding it at various times, folding it in with various techniques, etc., but I still can’t make a cocoa meringue that’s worth a darn. Anything you can do to help would be wonderfully appreciated!
    HI Tyler,
    Thanks for your patience. I made chocolate dacquoise yesterday and was thinking of you. They sat in the oven overnight, and looked good this morning. I’m not sure what exactly is going on with your chocolate meringues, so you may want to either call the hotline with details (802-649-3717) or drop us an email: bakers@kingarthurflour.com. The more details you can pass along, the better. Hope to hear from you soon. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. AnneMarie

    Re pasturized EWhites: she was responding to a previous poster who asked about using preseparated pasturized egg whites from the market.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE a good meringues, but there is NEVER a time in the deep south when you can successfully make them and have them come out right or last. It is simply too humid here all the time. Even when it feels GOOD to us, ie not humid, it is TOO humid for these. We used to make them when we lived up north and would fill them with chocolate. YUM! Or Andes Mints, or…..oh dang it, now I want SOME!

    Humidity really is the great enemy of crunchy or crisp confections! Even during the summer in the New England we have major problems with them.-Jon

    Reply
  15. Tyler JS

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to make cocoa meringues like I can buy at the store, but any time I add the fatty cocoa it collapses the meringue and makes my cookies more like crackers. Do you have any good ideas how I can add cocoa and still keep my meringue fluffy?

    Tyler, I’m sorry no one has answered you yet – I guess the bakers are trying to puzzle it out. I’ll check in with them and see what’s up. Stay tunes… PJH

    Reply
  16. daltstatt65

    Haha! Love the reference to my favorite show! I can just picture ol’ Violet enjoying a few of these! Think I’ll have to try these this weekend so I can have some while watching the next episode Sunday night . They’ll be a nice little indulgence

    Not sure what the Dowager Countess would think of chocolate in her plain meringues, though – SO not traditional! :) PJH

    Reply
  17. Fara

    I have made meringues before but they turned sticky after a few hours since I live in a humid state(Florida). Do you have any suggestions about storing them or even doing something differently while making them so they stay nice and crunchy? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Fara, unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life: meringues and humidity don’t mix! The only things I can suggest are re-drying them in a very low oven for an hour or so, to crisp them up; or storing them in a humidity-controlled cracker container – a container with a dessicant (e.g., silica) insert in the top or on the sides, to keep the contents very dry – something like this. Good luck – PJH

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *