Happy Valentines Day, everyone!
Most of the time, we don't really do anything for Valentines Day. Maybe go out for dinner...maybe go to a movie (if we have a coupon or gift card)...but nothing too extraordinary. And frankly, this year isn't much of an exception. However, I have been in love with all of the cute pinks and pastels lately, and what better time to incorporate those colours into the kitchen!? Other than Easter...(stay tuned!).
One of my favourite treats is a meringue cookie. Sweet, crunchy, light, and gluten free! This meringue cookie will not disappoint.
I got creative with the flavours and mixed strawberry and rose, two classic Valentines Day staples. If you haven't used rose extract, I highly recommend it. It offers a very unique and subtle floral flavour that is simply delectable. The brand I use is tagged here. If you've ever used rose extract, you know you need VERY little. Which is perfect for this recipe because you don't want to add a lot of liquid as it will mess with the consistency of the meringue.
For the strawberry flavour I use a strawberry emulsion which I have tagged here. It is very potent and I find the flavour is less synthetic than strawberry extract. Also, a huge bonus of using the emulsion, it's pink! No food colouring was needed with these beauties. If you decide to opt out of using an emulsion, or don't want the strawberry flavour, use red gel colouring. The gel will allow a similar pink result without wrecking the texture.
Here is the standard recipe I use for Meringue cookies.
Ingredients: 4 egg whites, 0.5t cream of tarter, 1c sugar, pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 225º. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites in a mixer until frothy.
Add the cream of tartar, the pinch of salt, and beat until soft peaks form.
With mixer running, slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
Pipe or scoop tablespoons of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing approximately 2 inches apart.
Bake for 45 minutes, then turn oven off. Without opening the door, let stand in oven for 1 hour.
Some tips for perfect meringues:
Make sure your equipment is VERY clean. Any spec of oil or crum can prevent the egg whites from getting light and fluffy.
To avoid getting any egg yolks in my meringue, I buy egg white separately. A quarter cup is 4 egg whites.
Egg whites fluff up better if they are at room temperature.
If you want perfect shapes (I like to wing it), draw your shapes on the parchment paper then flip it over and pipe within the traced shape. I used a round tip.
Avoid getting meringue everywhere by placing a piping bag in a tall glass and folding 3 inches or the sides down outside of the glass. The glass will act as a scraper when filling the bag and you'll save your hands from getting painfully sticky (but delicious!).
Some whipped cream and fresh berries takes this dessert to a whole new level!
My other Valentines creations included a shortbread cookie decorated with white chocolate. I like the simplicity of these cookies and the white chocolate (coloured with red gel food colouring) gives these cookies an amazing creaminess. I also substituted the cranberries in the linked recipe for dried strawberries to stick with my classic v-day flavours.
Finally, who can refuse these classic Valentines Day candies!? If you're seeking simplicity, top cupcakes with these adorable little hearts...and if you don't feel like baking cupcakes, you can order some here!