I am a sucker for whimsical little treats, and these Meringue Kisses are my latest obsession. I have played around with several methods to create a recipe that is simple to follow and uses basic ingredients and just a little extra know-how to help you create the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth cookie — just in time for Valentine’s Day.

As sugar and egg whites are the main components in meringue cookies, they are gluten and fat-free. My recipe also includes cream of tartar, which helps to stabilize the egg whites, as well as a touch of pure vanilla extract for flavor.

Many versions call for just granulated white sugar, but I use a blend of superfine and powdered sugars instead to achieve the signature light and airy texture of a good meringue.

A combination of superfine and powdered sugars are mixed into the meringue to create the signature melt-in-your-mouth sugary texture. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A combination of superfine and powdered sugars are mixed into the meringue to create the signature melt-in-your-mouth sugary texture. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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The egg whites are whisked until foamy, then the cream of tartar is whisked in until soft peaks form. Next, superfine sugar is slowly added as the mixer runs, until stiff peaks are formed. It is essential that the sugar dissolves as much as possible during this process, and superfine sugar helps to ensure that this happens.

Superfine sugar has a grain that is somewhere between granulated and powdered. It often costs more than regular sugar and can be difficult to find in our local markets, so I make my own by blitzing granulated sugar in my food processor for 30 seconds.

Egg whites and superfine sugar are whipped together until the meringue forms very stiff peaks. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Egg whites and superfine sugar are whipped together until the meringue forms very stiff peaks. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once the meringue has achieved stiff peaks, take a little between your fingers and rub them together to check if you can feel any grains of sugar. If you can, then keep mixing the meringue, checking every 20 to 30 seconds, until it feels smooth and free of grit.

Next, I add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. You could also use almond or peppermint extract, citrus zest or liqueurs to flavor the cookies.

The final step is to fold in 1 cup of powdered sugar, and I do this in three stages so that the meringue does not deflate. You can leave the meringue white or add food coloring at this stage, and I recommend using a gel paste food color as it won’t affect the texture of the cookie.

I am featuring an assortment of meringues for my SarahBakes Valentine’s menu, including pink and chocolate swirls. To create a color swirl, you just need to stop folding the meringue before the food coloring is fully distributed. For chocolate swirls, I add a touch of melted (and cooled) chocolate and fold it around the meringue just three or four times.

Melted chocolate or gel food coloring can be gently folded into the meringue to create a swirl effect. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Melted chocolate or gel food coloring can be gently folded into the meringue to create a swirl effect. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To create the charming kisses shown here, I used two piping bags — one fitted with an open round tip, and the other with an open star tip. Hold the tip straight just above the surface of the parchment paper and gently squeeze and then release before pulling up.

You could also use a plastic zip bag and snip one corner off, or make simple mounds with a spoon or ice cream scoop.

To pipe a kiss or swirl, hold the piping bag directly above the parchment paper, then gently squeeze and release before pulling up. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
To pipe a kiss or swirl, hold the piping bag directly above the parchment paper, then gently squeeze and release before pulling up. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Meringues need to bake low and slow, and I have had the best results when I bake them for one hour at 200 degrees, and then turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for at least two hours, or even overnight. The meringues will stay fresh at room temperature for up to two weeks and even longer in the freezer.

Playful, charming and delicious, these Meringue Kisses are as easy to make as they are to eat.

Round or open star tips can be used to create the Meringue Kisses and other shapes as desired. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Round or open star tips can be used to create the Meringue Kisses and other shapes as desired. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Meringue Kisses

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe

Makes: About 4 dozen 1-inch kisses

Ingredients:

4 large or extra-large egg whites, room temperature

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup superfine sugar (blitz granulated sugar in food processor for 30 seconds)

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk or beater attachments are completely clean, as any grease or residue can prevent the egg whites from whipping properly.

Add egg whites to your mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-high speed, slowly add the superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the meringue is stiff and glossy and most of the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Rub a little meringue between your fingers; if it is still gritty, continue to mix on medium-low speed until there is barely any sugar grain when you test it. Add the vanilla extract and mix on medium-low for 10 seconds.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the powdered sugar, adding it in 3 stages so that the meringue doesn’t deflate. Gently fold the sugar into the meringue until fully incorporated.

If using food coloring or melted chocolate, fold in just 3 to 4 times lightly for a swirled effect, or fold in completely for a solid effect.

To pipe the kisses, transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a round or open star tip. Hold the tip straight above the parchment, squeeze gently and then release just before pulling up. Add candy sprinkles or chopped nuts now, if desired.

Place both baking sheets in the oven (top third and bottom third) and bake for 2 hours, then remove cookies and let cool completely on baking sheet. Or bake for 1 hour, turn off oven and let cookies dry in oven overnight.

Once cooled, transfer the cookies to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for several months.

Sarah’s Tip:

  • To keep the parchment paper from lifting up as you pipe, place a small dab of meringue under each corner of the parchment paper so that it will adhere to the baking sheet.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.