It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ


Ahh, the meringue. Gluten and dairy free without having to substitute ingredients. Dead simple once you've mastered slowly adding sugar to egg whites while beating on high speed. You can bake in a super low oven for 25 minutes or a low oven for 20 minutes or turn the oven off and take the cookies out the next morning. It's possible the overnight baking method will not be acceptable to any children in your household.

[A variety of meringue cookies; copyright 2016, Susan J. Talbutt, all rights reserved]

Basic meringue

Preheat your oven to 275 to 325 degrees.

Meringue is a ratio of sugar and egg whites. For 1 egg white, 1/4 to 1/3 c of sugar (50 to 67 g). I like to add 1/8 tsp of cream of tarter to make the proteins a bit more springy. You can also add a pinch of salt, or 1/4 tsp of vanilla.

Separate the eggs. Gently crack the equator or midriff of the egg with a butter knife or against the rim of a teacup. Pull the shell into two hemispherical halves, and allow the white to drip into the cup, while keeping the yolk in one half. Pass the yolk to the other half. Pass back to the first half if there is still a lot of white clinging to the yolk. Stop passing if the yolk looks like it's about the break! Drop the yolk into a small, freezable plastic container. Pour the white from the cup into the large mixing bowl you'll be beating the whites in. If the yolk does break and drip into the white, drop the remaining yolk into the cup with already contaminated white, and pour into an empty, small, freezable container; use the yolk for pancakes or scones the next morning. When you are done, label the small containers and freeze immediately.

Start the mixer on low speed. Add the cream of tartar if using. As the whites start to foam, increase the mixer speed to medium for a minute or two, then to medium high or high. The more whites you are whipping, the lower the top mixer speed so as not to strain the motor. When the whites are firm, add a tablespoon or two of sugar while continuing to beat the whites, and then wait. Put the yolks into the freezer, wipe down the counters, load the dishwasher, something to kill about 30 seconds. Or more. The point is not to rush. Add a bit more sugar. Distract yourself again; meringues are great for getting the kitchen cleaned while working. Continue adding sugar and whipping with a noticeable break before adding more sugar. When all the sugar is added, the whites should be glossy but not dry.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or Silpat or similar liners. You can drop the batter from a spoon to form a kiss shape, or use a pastry bag and star tip to pipe fancy shapes.

Bake until the meringe has dried out. For small cookies at 275 degrees, this can be 25 to 30 minutes; at 325 degrees it will take 15 to 20 minutes. Larger shapes will take longer to bake. I like my meringues crisp and dry, not chewy.


Yes, yes, the hot cookie now is the one-oh French macaron, made with almond flour, and everyone disses "grandmom's" coconut macaroons as being, what, stodgy? Well, let me tell you, macaroons were cool once and they'll be cool again, once the they get designated as "retro."

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use 8 ounces of shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened, and 1 cup of sugar for 3 eggs. Break up any clumps in the coconut and fold in. Drop onto a cookie sheet into mounds about 1 inch in diameter, at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until just turning light golden brown on top. I like my macaroons crisp rather than chewy. Full recipe.

Forgotten cookies

My childhood favorite! As my best friend Donna said, how could you forget about these? The name comes from the baking directions: pop into the oven, turn it off, and forget about the cookies until morning. Unfortunately, if the oven cools too quickly, the cookies come out gummy. But delicious!

Two egg whites, 2/3 c sugar, once the whites are glossy fold in 6 ounces (half a bag) of chocolate chips. Just double the recipe so that you can use the whole bag. Drop from a spoon to make a kiss shape. Pop into a preheated 375 degree oven, turn off after five minutes, go to bed. Full recipe.


Wasps' nests. Who in their right mind names a cookie for a very nasty household pest? I put a pitchfork into a (very small) wasps' nest and the wasps were not pleased.

For 3 whites and 1 1/4 cup of sugar, fold in 4 1/2 ounces of ground unsweetened (or bittersweet) chocolate and 9 ounces of almonds coarsely chopped or slivered. Drop into mounds about 1 to 1 1/2 inches across; they will be misshapen blobs that look like paper wasps nests. Bake at 275 degrees for 25 minutes. Full recipe.


Bavarian kisses! We've had a lot of fun adding cinnamon (1 tsp), cayenne (1/4 tsp), cloves (1/4 tsp) and other spices along with the cocoa.

For 2 whites and 1/2 cup of sugar, fold in 2 ounces ground unsweetened (or bittersweet) chocolate, 1 tablespoon cocoa (Dutched or natural) and any of the spices listed above (or not). Bake 25 to 30 minutes in a 275 degree oven. Full recipe.

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