It is nearly Easter and I have had one of those weeks where I could not motivate myself to work on any type of demanding project despite my best intentions. An unexpected trip across Canada; a rainy day beckoning me to pull out the soup pot; a sunny afternoon inviting me to enjoy my coffee on the front deck all proved to be excellent distractions. Before I knew it, a new project landed in my lap! An urgent request for Easter cookies! Just the thing I needed to reenergize my creative spirit. Easter Play!
My mission: make several dozen gluten-free cookies and Easter cookies for a family gathering, which included lots of children. I set to work immediately and came up with a plan: meringues and Italian Almond Macaroon Gluten-free cookies, along with good old-fashioned sugar cookies. The gluten-free cookies were completed in short order and stored in an airtight container. Learn How to Make Soft Meringue Cookies below.
EASTER PLAY – Making Easter Cookies
The sugar cookies required a lot more attention. They had to be rolled, cut into classic Easter shapes, chilled, baked and then decorated with royal icing. Nothing makes this pastry chef more excited than when she is surrounded by mini pots of multi-coloured royal icing, sprinkles and coloured sugars. When baking for children, one of the most rewarding aspects of my work, whimsy is necessary to make the end result fun and tasty.
There have been many projects like this over the years;
- a wedding request for 500 cookies copying the colours of Ontario’s maple leaves in October;
- Mother’s Day cameo cookies;
- Ladybug cookies;
- Holiday Cookies and of course, Easter cookies.
Each project brings back fond memories of tabletops strewn with lines and lines of cookies in various stages of production, as well as the many, many small stainless steel bowls arranged in rows with royal icing in every colour of the rainbow.
If you want to have some fun; imagine yourself strolling the streets of Paris looking into the pastry shop windows. Now, visualize all the colourful cookies, macaroons and meringues piled high. It is super easy to make these wonderful meringues, which are often the size of bedroom slippers in Paris! For these Easter themed cookies, I have made the meringues approximately three inches in an oval shape and piped in a subtle shape.
SOFT MERINGUE EGGS
CHEF TALK: This recipe for gluten-free meringue “eggs” is fast, easy and fun to make. I used a piping bag with Number 825 Tip, but you can also just plop a spoonful of meringue onto a parchment lined baking sheet with great results. See NOTES below for additional tips.
- Soft Meringue Eggs
EASTER PLAY: SOFT MERINGUE EGGS
Makes: approximately 24 x 3-inch meringues
- 5 eggs, whites only (150 ml)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (210 g)
- Salt, a pinch
- Lemon juice, 1 teaspoon or 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- In a very clean mixing bowl using a whisk attachment on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy. At this point, add the salt, lemon juice or cream of tartar.
- Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites are firm.
- Next, you can separate the meringue into several bowls and add food colouring to the desired shade. Pipe the meringues onto parchment on the tray, leaving a space of one to two inches between the meringues.
- Bake at 170°F until the meringues are firm. (this takes quite a while – allow several hours) if you are using a conventional oven. A convection oven will get the job done much faster. The meringues will be done when you can lift them easily off of the parchment paper. They will feel firm. If the meringues feel soft or stick to the parchment, they need a bit more time in the oven. Spin the trays occasionally in the oven.
STORAGE: Store in a dry place. Meringues have a great shelf life if they are kept in a dry environment. Humidity will cause them to weep and soften. Do not refrigerate.
CHEF TIP: I used a 3 “ oval cookie cutter and black marker to trace the outline onto parchment paper leaving an inch and a half in between each tracing. Continue to trace and fill the parchment sheet with the oval shape. Now turn the parchment sheet over (marker side is now upside down to prevent any transfer of the ink onto the meringues). Pipe the meringues. Bake as directed above.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Oven Temperature Accuracy
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