After all that ice cream I made, and some other projects, I had 12 egg whites left over. So the only logical thing was to make meringues. Or I could have made a really big egg white omelette….like the size of an ostrich egg (which is actually the equivalent of at least 16 chicken eggs)! Meringues won out.
I don’t often make these, because they just seem like a relatively flavorless, crunchy vehicle for sugar. So this time I added some ground almonds and it made all the difference. They were more of a cross between meringues and French macarons. V. took some to work, where they were a moderate success. Then we took more to a party of French and Caribbean folks, and they were a huge hit. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I know my friends were’t just being polite, because they called the next day to order more for themselves and their neighbors.
They are quick to whip up, and then they just sit in the oven for a good hour. They make a great gift and they keep for some time if stored in an airtight container, so you can make a lot. Nevertheless I reduced the recipe to 3 egg whites and you can multiply as needed.
A little trick I learned at the Cordon Bleu is that the average egg yolk weighs 20 grams (0.7 oz.) and the average white, 30 grams (1 oz.). This way, even if you’ve broken all your eggs into a bowl, you can still figure out how many you’ve got!
Happy baking to you all! V. and I are off to another day of museum hopping in Manhattan.
Almond Meringue Cookies
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
Sliced almonds for decoration.
Let the egg whites come to room temperature.
Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and the sugar.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form (in culinary school we had to do this by hand. It’s possible, but you will really work out one of your arms).
Gradually sprinkle in the sugar, a little bit at a time, whisking more. Once all the sugar is incorporated, keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Add the salt and almond extract and whisk very briefly.
Using a slotted spoon or a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the ground almonds, a little bit at a time.
Using a spoon, place little dollops of meringue on the sheet pan. They spread out a tiny bit, so leave some room between them.
Bake for at least an hour, or until they are crunchy and have the slightest bit of color around the edges.
If, like me, you can’t fit all of them in the oven at once, lay out parchment paper and make all your little dollops. They will start to air dry, and when one sheet pan comes out of the oven, you can transfer them. Since they take so long to bake, this might turn into an all-day affair, but it’s worth it, and you can go off and do other things while they’re crisping up in the oven.