Eating Light (Dessert Edition): Meringues!

Eating Light (Dessert Edition): Meringues!

If you are like us, you need a little sweet at the end of a meal, even if you are trying to eat light. When we're trying to cut back, meringues are a good bet; they're mostly air, anyway. If you've got some egg whites (perhaps left over from making curd?), you're halfway there on the ingredients...

Cold, winter weather is ideal for making meringues, since sticky humidity can sometimes keep them from completely drying out (or staying dry once they're baked). Most recipes for meringues start the same way: Whip egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff and glossy, adding sugar gradually as you go.

Then, meringue bakers go different directions. Some people say to bake them on very low heat for a few hours. Others say to bake them for less time, then leave them in a slowly-cooling oven overnight. We usually go with the former, since we're always making meringues the same night we want to eat them.

A few ways to spice them up:
Add actual spice. What about a little dried ginger, cloves, or cinnamon?

Make meringue "bowls." Instead of piping or spooning little dollops onto your baking sheet, form shallow bowls with a bigger plop that's smushed out a bit in the middle, forming higher sides. They'll take longer to bake, but you can fill them with sherbet, chopped fruit, or, if eating light isn't the goal, ice cream.

Add chocolate chips. Little ones. Just dropped on the top of each meringue before they go into the oven.

Crumble them. We're not opposed to odd-shaped meringues, ones that get too much color in the oven, or those that can't seem to lose their spongy center. But if they aren't perfect, you can always crumble them over fruit, yogurt, or pudding for a low-calorie topping. This also works for people who like the taste but not the scraping sound your teeth tend to make biting down on a meringue (we have one of those folks in our family).

Add flavoring. We love a little almond extract or cocoa powder, but Faith also recommends rum and kirsch (see recipes below).

Here are some tips and recipes from the Kitchn:
Meringue Cookie Bites Three Ways
Spiced Pomegranate Meringues
Quick Tip: How to Keep Meringues Crispy

Related: Quick Tip: Beating Egg Whites

(Image: Flickr member jbdjbdjbd, licensed under Creative Commons)

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