As a spooky Halloween treat last year, I made meringue cloud ghosts and brought some upstairs to my landlords. We have an exchange going; I share my homemade sugary sweets and Max, their middle school aged aspiring chef, brings me bites of his hand baked goods. I think Max's sweet tooth might be just as big as mine. When Max asked me for my meringue recipe, I knew it was a perfect snack to bake together. Most meringue recipes I've seen require baking for a very long time at a low temperature. Not only does my oven have a hard time maintaining a given temperature, I also don't have the patience or time to be baking for 5 or 6 hours.
To fix this predicament, I adapted a cookie recipe I've made before that only required baking the meringues for an hour. Baking meringues in an oven with a mind of its own is not an easy feat. I like to think my oven just gets REALLY excited when I put food in to bake, that it heats up anywhere from 50 to 100 degrees hotter than I've told it. I discovered this quirk when baking (and burning) a red velvet cake the week I moved in. My mom bought me an oven thermometer after that fateful incident. To ensure my oven doesn't burn whatever it is I'm trying to bake, I have to set a timer every five minutes to check the oven temperature. If it's too hot, I have to leave the oven door ajar to let some
excitement heat escape. For meringues, this process is quite tedious, and runs the risk of slightly ill-cooked meringues, but my sweet tooth doesn't care how pretty they are as long as they're tasty...which they are.
- 2 large egg whites (¼ cup)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 225ºF
- In a stand mixer. whisk egg whites on medium-low until frothy.
- Increase the speed to medium and whisk in ¼ cup of sugar.
- Continue whipping until soft peaks form.
- In a continuous stream, add the remaining sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff, shiny peaks form.
- Transfer meringue mixture to a pastry bag with a plain decorating tip (If you don't have pastry bags, cut the corner off of a gallon ziploc bag).
- Pipe clouds onto parchment-lined baking sheet. The meringues will not grow very much, so do not worry about putting them close to each other.
- Bake for 60 minutes, or until firm.
- Eat immediately (or within a couple of days.