Ever since I made the sweet and light as a sigh Suspiro Limeño, I have been obsessed with how to make the perfect meringue. This obsession lead to lots of reading, many practice sessions and frequent trips to my favorite kitchen supply store to get piping bags, tips, and bowls. One of the results of these practice sessions is these delightful little meringue cookies, or Merenguitos.
During my research, I learned that they are three basic types or meringue: French, Italian, and Swiss. In the Suspiro Limeño, I added a syrup, which is the Italian technique, while for the Merenguito I used granulated sugar, or the French technique. Then of course, there is the texture and stiffness of the peaks. Not to mention the artistry involved in making stars and other swirl patterns.
For these Merenguitos, I used Teresa Izquierdo’s recipe from the Larousse de los Postres Peruanos, but omitted the manjar blanco custard and made just the cookies. The measurements are my own, with reduced sugar and about half the egg whites. The real challenge is in knowing the temperament of your oven and being patient while the cookies are baking.
To test for flavor, I had to try the meringue before putting it in the oven. And in order to test for readiness, I had to try a few cookies while they were still in the oven. Despite sacrificing a few cookies, this recipe still yielded about 30 small cookies. Once they were done, I could hardly stop eating them. No wonder my mom used to call me Cookie Monster when I was a little boy.
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1/2 a lime
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a hand mixer, a mixing bowl, a piping bag, a star tip, and a baking sheet with Silpat.
- Preheat the oven to the lowest setting, mine was set to 275°F
- Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl, add the cream of tartar, and mix on low speed until soft peaks form. About 2 minutes.
- Increase mixing speed to medium, and add the sugar and corn starch, a little bit at a time until stiff peaks form. About 2 minutes.
- Increase mixing speed to high, and add lime juice, a few drops at a time until meringue is stiff and glossy. About 2 minutes.
- Using a spoon, scoop meringue into a piping bag with a star decorating tip.
- Using a swirling motion, pipe the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat.
- Place the sheet in the oven and start a timer.
- After 30 minutes have elapsed, turn off the oven.
- After 2 hours have elapsed, remove baking sheet from oven.
- Let cookies cool, and eat while making Cookie Monster sounds.
Depending on your oven, it may take longer to bake the cookies. Essentially, the low temperature and long baking time ensures they are dry and crispy. If you try one and they are still soft and chewy they are not done yet.