Lemon Infused — Italian Meringue Cookies
Springtime beckoning that light and brighter fare. Each early blossom, tulips, daffodils, primroses are Nature’s mood enhancers that turn us to flights of fancy in our cookery.
All the joys of meringue. Made in the Italian style, where time and patience yields a cookie so light and delicate with a surprising intensity of flavor.
This is not my normal. I am not a fussy baker, but with five leftover egg whites (from the vanilla pots de créme) I wracked my brain for inspiration. A vision of divinity still haunts me from the holidays but is far too decadent to have in the house. Lemon meringue pie is a favorite, but again, too much dessert for two. So an airy, dainty cookie infused with strong lemon-lime flavors seemed perfect for Spring and entirely doable. That is if you have half a day at your disposal, with warm, clear skies and maybe a dry wind from the south thrown in. That old adage rings true, you are at your own peril if you make meringues or other candies on rainy days. The cookies suck up the extra moisture in the air like sponges.
Patience, waiting for the leftover egg whites to come to room temperature before beating.
Patience, beating and beating the whites until peaks form.
Patience, waiting for the syrup to reach the soft ball stage, how slowly does the thermometer rise.
Patience, beating again, is it glossy enough, stiff enough?
Patience, my piping is all over the place, are there even two cookies that follow that perfect pretty form in my brain.
Patience, is it time again to rotate pans?
Patience, another hour, really?
Again I am in awe of those practiced pastry chefs and artisans their craft. Perfect little meringue kisses in the bakery cases. Skill, knowledge and practice — all that things that patience brings to create their perfection. No matter how easy it may seem in your minds-eye when you read a recipe, those simplified, rational steps may belay the years of experience of the in-between hints, tips and phrasings. Only when you give it a try yourself do you learn the nuances and precision that baking success requires. We are so impatient, wanting instant success in all we do because we can picture it happening. The key is to not give up if your attempts are not perfect the first time and keep on stretching and learning. That’s my meringue lesson.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon and lime juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Zest Lemons and Limes, then squeeze juice from fresh Lemon and Bearss Limes and strain through fine mesh sieve, set aside.
- Preheat oven to 200°F, line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Setup piping bag with large star tip.
- In a large bowl beat room temperature egg whites until foamy, sprinkle in cream of tartar. Increase mixer speed to medium high and continue mixing until soft peak form.
- While the mixer is going, create your syrup.
- Add sugar, zest and lemon-lime juice (tip strain juice through fine mesh sieve first) to small heavy bottom sauce pan. Swirl to dissolve sugar and heat over medium high until it is clear, increase heat and boil until sugar syrup is at 240°F (soft ball stage.) Take off heat.
- Slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream a little at a time into the meringue and continue beating at medium-high until you’ve used it all and the meringue is glossy and very stiff peaks form and hold their shape.
- Spoon meringue into piping bag and form 1 ½” cookies in the parchment paper.
- I added a couple drops of food coloring to make both green and yellow cookies.
- Bake at 200°F for 2 ½ hours, rotating pans every thirty minutes or so for even baking. Once done turn off oven and crack open the door and let cookies slowly cool down for at least an hour more. Remove from baking pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Store cookies up to one week in airtight container.