Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Recipe - Peppermint and Cardamom Meringues

Every year with my mother's family, our Christmas tradition is to draw a name from a hat and fill that person's stocking. Kind of like a Secret Santa. This year I got my stepfather's stocking. And to save money, I decided I was going to do a lot of cooking (well, and I got books really cheaply at my company's holiday book sale). I usually make cookies, but he has dietary restrictions where he can't have egg yolks or butter. So what to do?

I made meringues. By Thursday, I'll have made three kinds of meringues - cardamom, peppermint, and almond. I've made all but the almond so far. I also found the cutest Santa tupperware at Target that I'm going to package them in ( though what's up with the tupperware not locking? The tops fall off if you look at them funny...).

Word of caution: meringues are highly addictive, and they're like Pringles - once you pop, you can't stop. The peppermint ones in particular.

The main recipe below is for the peppermint, the parentheses is for the cardamom. I quadrupled or sextupled the recipe (basically I just wanted to use a dozen eggs), the amounts below are the amounts I actually used.

Also, I didn't want to waste all the egg yolks, so I'm going to try my hand at creme brule on wednesday. More to come on that...

Peppermint (cardmom) meringues

12 egg whites
3C (4C) superfine sugar
14 candycanes, crushed (T cardamom)
3/4t cream of tartar (cardamom meringue recipe didn't call for it, but I'd add it next time)

Preheat the oven to 275.

Crush the candy canes with a mortar and pestle into small pieces. Until your shoulder starts to hurt. And your hand. Almost had enough? Only 6 canes left. You want to crush them until there's some peppermint powder, and some small pieces of cane.

If you don't have superfine sugar (apparently they sell this, I didn't see any at my supermarket), take a bunch of regular sugar and put it in your food processor.

Separate the whites and yolks, making extra sure not to get any of the yolks into the whites (to make sure not to make a mistake, which always happens right when you've cracked the 10th into the big bowl, crack each yolk into a small bowl and then add it to the big bowl). If there's any yolk in the whites, it won't beat up properly.

Whip the eggs with a beater until foamy. Gradually add in the sugar (if you're making the peppermint ones, then add in some of the peppermint powder as well, but not the small chunks). Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks (shoulder pain, yes yes). If you're making the cardamom version, add the spices after stiff peaks are formed.

Dollop onto a greased pan (or silicon cookie sheet). Peppermint - sprinkle crushed candy over top of each meringue. Cardamom - sprinkle cardamom on the top. Pop into the oven and bake for 1-2 hours (my eyes almost popped when I saw this, I hadn't realized it would take so long).

I wasn't able to fit all the meringues into the oven on the first go-round, so I put the remaining sugared whites in the fridge, then whipped them for a little while before spooning out the next batch. They were much thinner and ran into each other, but they tasted just as good.


Charlotte said...

Peppermint is my favorite flavor ever! I am totally making these. Tonight. Well, if i can get to the store to get some candy canes. I know, what kind of mother doesn't have candy canes at Christmas time?? Thanks for the recipe!

Crabby McSlacker said...

These sound awesome.

And I love the grinding instructions! Too funny.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Mine too, Charlotte! Best ever ice cream - Breyer's lite mint chocolate chip (ok, not peppermint, but still mint). Lite is actually better than the full fat stuff.

Crabby, I'm not kidding, my hand felt like it was going to start spasming by the time I got to the 14th candy cane. It was totally worth it though...

neversaydiet said...

Hey LG - (my initials, too!)
Sending lots of holiday wishes and love and hope for a great 2009!

Barbara Gavin said...

One question and one idea.

Question - on the cardamom meringues, is the cardamom that you sprinkle on top of the dollops *in addition* to the spice you add while beating the egg whites?

Idea - crushing the candy canes. Throw the candy into a gallon zip lock, wrap the zip lock in two or three sheets of newspaper (or maybe a dishtowel) and then whale on the package with a kitchen mallet or a rolling pin. Or the bottom of your cast iron skillet.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Yes, the cardamom on top of the meringues was in addition to the cardamom in the meringues, no idea how much more, but just some sprinkles.

That is a good idea about the peppermint, but I think the peppermint splinters might break through the bag and make a mess, and it would take a lot more work to break them down to powder, or at least small pieces. But then, I haven't tried it this way, so if you do, let me know how it works!