Perfectly shaped, light-as-air meringues are a delightful Valentine’s Day dessert. At first glance, they may appear daunting, but really, all they require is room-temperature egg whites and sugar, beaten to a frenzy, until stiff peaks form. They’re baked slowly in a 300F oven then allowed to cool and crisp.
You can make the meringues free-form by spooning tablespoonfuls of the beaten whites onto baking sheets, or make them more artful by placing the whites in a disposable pastry bag and piping them into adorable “kisses.” Don’t have a pastry bag? Spoon the whites into a ziptop plastic bag, snip off one corner, then squeeze onto baking sheets.
Meringues offer loads of chances for add-ins. Make them with cocoa and chocolate mini chips (the standard size chips are too large), or fold in milk chocolate toffee bits. Or make a pink kiss for Valentine’s Day by adding a few drops of red food coloring and 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of the vanilla.
Basic Meringue Recipe
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, securing paper to baking sheet with masking tape.
2. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form (when the beater is lifted from the whites, peaks with curled-over tops form). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (when the beater is lifted from the whites, peaks remain standing straight up).
3. Add vanilla and beat 30 seconds more.
4. Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls onto prepared pan; or fill a disposable pastry bag with batter and pipe a small amount (about 1 tablespoon of batter for each meringue) onto pan. Bake 40 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool on pan on a wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining batter, reusing parchment paper. Store in an airtight container. Makes 40 (1-inch) meringues.
Per kiss: 20 calories, 0g fat, 0mg chol., 0g prot., 5g carbs., 0g fiber, 20mg sodium
Double-Chocolate Mocha Meringue Kisses
Omit the vanilla. Sift 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder over egg whites; fold in. Fold in 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate minichips.
Per kiss: 25 calories, 0g fat, 0mg chol., 0g prot., 6g carbs., 0g fiber, 20mg sodium
Use 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Omit the vanilla. Fold in 1/2 cup milk chocolate toffee bits.
Per kiss: 35 calories, 1g fat, 0mg chol., 0g prot., 7g carbs., 0g fiber, 30mg sodium