Pumpkin Meringue Cookies and Cupcakes
I feel like I'm behind the curve when it comes to all the fall/Halloween baking. You know how as soon as school starts back up, the stores are instantly packed with Halloween and Christmas decorations? Well in the baking world, (food blogs, Pinterest, magazines, everything) it's the same. September has hit, school is in session, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are here, so that means it's officially the holiday season! Or so we like to think.
Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday season as much as the next Elf-loving/cookie-baking/sweater-wearing guy. And while we do have quite some time before Halloween...(a month and a half), it doesn't hurt to start thinking up some cute ideas. After all, you're gonna need to know the recipe for these and plan to make them before your Halloween party, right? Exaaaactly.
[P.S. these are totally acceptable for other non-Halloween events too ;)]
It starts with a meringue cookie. Meringue is essentially made up of whipped egg whites and sugar. Meringue is used in quite a few desserts like: lemon meringue pie, pavlova, french macarons, angel food cake, and more.
They're crisp, light, pillowy little clouds of "cookies". They're also gluten-free, and fat-free, if you're into that kinda thing.
A few key tips to remember when making meringue:
-The bowl and mixer attachments you're using CANNOT have any traces of grease (butter) on them. This will prevent your meringue from forming stiff peaks. I like to rewash my utensils just to be safe before I make meringue. You can also wipe the bowl with a lemon wedge to remove any traces of grease.
-It's important to get ONLY egg whites in the bowl. Any traces of egg yolk will ruin your meringue.
-Separating egg whites from egg yolks is best when the eggs are cold.
Patience is key with meringue. Especially if you are using a hand mixer, as opposed to a stand mixer, you have to stand there holding it and watch the whites whip like watching grass grow. It's a daunting task. You'll question yourself quite a few times before the ever-elusive meringue finally shows it's face.
But, given if you've done the steps correctly, you will get stiff peaks! And you'll probably jump for joy. It's one of those life-defining moments, ya know?
So the meringue cookies are tinted orange, and piped to look like pumpkins. I thought it was pretty cute. They aren't pumpkin flavored, and I'm not sure how that would work in the meringue, so I just made them normal meringues.
After they were done baking, I used a brown edible-marker to draw lines down the creases to make them look more like pumpkins.
You could just make the meringue cookies by themselves and leave it at that. OR! If you're feeling like upping it, turn them into cupcake toppers!
I made vanilla cupcakes, frosted them, dipped them in toasted coconut, and topped them with a cute little pumpkin meringue. You've got yourself your own little pumpkin patch cupcake!
Let's dig in!
Make the meringue by whipping egg whites until foamy.
Add cream of tartar and whip.
Once you've reached soft peaks, begin SLOWLY adding sugar in while mixing. 1 T at a time.
They will become shiny... this is where we start to get happy!
Add the orange food coloring, and whip until stiff peaks form.
Place in a piping bag with a star tip that looks like this. I used a Wilton 2D.
Pipe away! Bake in the oven at 275 for 40 mins, leaving them in the oven for 1 hour after you turn the oven off.
Meringue Cookie Recipe:
Makes 24 cookies
2 egg whites
1/8 tea. cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 275. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer whip egg whites until foamy.
Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
Slowly add sugar in, while mixing, 1 T. at a time.
Continue to whip until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy.
Mix in food coloring.
Put meringue in a piping bag with a star tip (Wilton 2D)
Pipe cookies straight onto the parchment paper, using firm pressure and slowly lifting off.
*To make the bottoms less star-shaped, keep the tip at the starting point for a few seconds before slowly lifting up.
Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
When 40 minutes is up, turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for 1 hour to continue to dry out.
To use as cupcake toppers:
Frost cupcakes, top with toasted coconut, and adhere meringue cookie on top with a dollop of frosting.