Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meringue Cookies

Since we are so close, I will tell you that I spent most of Tuesday throwing up. It started mid-jog, thus allowing me to puke all over Cambridge and Boston, and lasted all day and night, thus allowing me to question the meaning of life, the perils of the human body, the coldness of the bathroom floor, and how many times one's entire digestive tract can seize and expel before one simply gives up and dies right there on the spot.

But then Wednesday came, and there were crackers and ginger ale. Limited nausea. A good book. Suddenly it was 4:00 in the afternoon and I hadn't ralphed all day. I didn't even feel like ralphing. In fact, I felt more like making something delicate that my stomach wouldn't repel and that would restore some of my energy--since even rolling over on the couch left me breathless. Plus, there had to be dessert.

Not really knowing the best thing to eat after, ahem, performing a self-cleanse, I followed my dad's advice and decided to "Call it out," as he put it. If I was still sick, there was only one way to find out. I tested the waters with a cup of coffee. No problem. Dessert should be fiiiiiiiine.

But maybe a simple dessert, with limited butter. Maybe one with no butter at all! Yes! And one that only requires me to stand up for about five minutes! Yes! This is it!

Meringue Cookies
makes 7-8 cookies; takes 3 hours total, but only about 5 minutes active time

1 large egg white (preferably room temperature)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
(*optional, 1/2 tsp cornstarch, see note below)

First, preheat oven to 200ยบ.
Now, Step 1: With electric mixer, beat egg white and vanilla on medium-low speed until frothy. Like so:
Step 1: Add cream of tartar, increase speed, and beat until soft peaks form. Like so:

Step 3: Add sugar (and cornstarch, if using) in 3 additions, beating well after each time. Let the mixture go until whites are very stiff and glossy. Like so:
Step 4: Quickly spoon meringue mixture into a ziplock back and snip one corner off. Pipe into whatever shapes you like--I happen to like wide, flat meringues. Alternately, just get a spoon and slop them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar. Allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven (could take 45 minutes or so), so they fully dry out. If you try to cool them too fast, they'll likely crack. Store in an airtight container for a couple days.

*About the cornstarch: some people say cornstarch helps the meringues keep their shape. This is probably true. If you're going for beauty, maybe go with the cornstarch. I didn't feel like fishing out my box and was pretty sure neither David nor I were going to care what these babies looked like, so I skipped it.

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