Friday, December 18, 2009

Candy Cane Meringues

My holiday cooking frenzy continues, with these little gems whipped up very last minute this morning once I remembered that, yes, the staff party was today, and, yes, I really did sign up to bring a treat. I love these meringues -- they go together fast and aren't too fussy, but look festive on the plate. Nothing says Christmas like pink peppermint puffs, and nothing beats holiday stress like whacking a dozen candy canes to smithereens. It's a win-win.

Candy Cane Meringues

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

In a very clean stainless bowl, whip
2 egg whites
with an electric mixer until frothy.

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Continue beating and slowly add
2/3 cup sugar
until egg whites are stiff and glossy.

Gently fold in
3 tablespoons cracker crumbs (like saltines or Hai Tai crackers)
10 - 12 mini candy canes, pounded to small pieces

Spoon teaspoons of meringue mixture onto a greased or silicon mat-lined cookie sheet, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until peaks just begin to brown. If you bake two sheets at once, rotate their position (from top to bottom) once during baking. If you are using a small oven you can bake these in small batches, but the mixture will begin to deflate and the meringues will be a bit flatter. Store baked meringues in an airtight container; if left out they will become sticky in a humid environment, but they tend to disappear before then.

Tips and info:

I have a jar of cream of tartar from the States so I don't know what it's called in Mandarin, but I'm sure you can buy it here. Meringues are pretty common at local bakeries. I'll see what I can find out. You can substitute chocolate chips or other small candy bits for the candy canes; about 1/2 cup should be plenty. For making cracker crumbs, I just crumble the crackers right in their package; five Hai Tais equals about 3 tablespoons. It doesn't have to be precise. For the candy canes, unwrap them and place them in a sturdy ziplock baggy, then whack them with a heavy spoon, butt of a knife, or a wooden rolling pin that you don't care about (it might get dented).

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