Valentine’s Day is coming up and that just means more baking! Growing up, Valentine’s Day always consisted of those chalky candy hearts and chocolate truffles. I can do without the hearts, but my mom still sends me a box of See’s Chocolates every year, thanks mom!
One of my favorite parts of Valentine's Day was at school. I loved the tradition of decorating a bag with our name on it to have on our desks. And I would watch the Valentine’s cards pour in during our class party. The Valentine’s Day party always consisted of candy and cookies. Typically they were store bought cookies, which was fine by me as a kid because it was a cookie! But now, that I have healthier eating habits, and being parent myself, I am more conscious of what ingredients go into the foods we are eating. So, needless to say, I am making our cookies. And I'm finding ways to make them festive and pretty without the use of artificial colors. So this year I'm baking light and fluffy pink and white meringue cookies dipped in chocolate. One of the best things about these cookies is they only have a few simple ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. I can color them easily with natural dye and dipping them in chocolate makes these a fun activity that I even enlist Izzy's help with. She really had fun dipping these cookies in chocolate!
Meringue cookies have a little crunch on the outside with a light, airy, and a tad bit chewy inside. As soon as you bite into them they melt in your mouth. To me these vanilla meringue’s taste like cotton candy. My mom says they taste like a toasted marshmallow. Either way, they are delicious! Get the recipe below.
Valentine's Day Meringues
Makes 60 to 70
4 large organic egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (like Frontier Co-Op)
pinch of fine sea salt
142 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) organic cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon ColorKitchen pink dye (find here)
106 grams (3/4 cup) organic dark chocolate, finely chopped
organic roasted & salted peanuts, finely chopped
organic unsweetened fine shredded coconut
Allow eggs to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. Make sure your mixing bowl is completely clean from grease, oils, residues, and water. These residue’s can reduce the fluffiness of your meringue. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk egg whites, starting on medium until they have a frothy or foamy look (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and sea salt. Continue to whisk on medium while slowly adding the cane sugar. Add small amounts at a time so you don't have any clumps. Continue to keep adding until all the sugar is mixed in.
Turn the speed up to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. This can take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. When the meringue is done it will look stiff and glossy and it will not fall off the whisk.
Divide the meringue in half and add the pink food coloring to half, stir completely with a spatula until it's completely combined. Place the white and pink meringue in separate piping bags with decorating tip #804. Pipe small dollops onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 70 to 80 minuets. Check the meringues by removing a pan from the oven and feeling the outside of the meringue cookie. If it is hard to the touch, gently peel your cookie off of the parchment paper. If it lifts off smoothly, and the bottom looks solid, not wet, then your meringues are done. If it doesn’t peel off easily or meringue is left on the parchment paper, continue baking for 10 minutes at a time. It's very important to check to see if they are done, because if you take them out too early and let them sit they will become lumpy looking and won't look smooth or pretty.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Allow it to sit until it's warm and not hot. Dip the bottom of each meringue into the chocolate and then dip into coconut or peanuts. Place back on the parchment paper. Allow chocolate to dry, or place in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Don't leave in the fridge any longer or the meringues will become soggy.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
High Altitude - Bake at 225°F for 50 to 60 minutes. Check the meringues by removing a pan from the oven and feeling the outside of the meringue cookie. If it is hard to the touch, gently peel your cookie off of the parchment paper. If it lifts off smoothly, and the bottom looks solid, not wet, then your meringues are done. If it doesn’t peel off easily or meringue is left on the parchment paper, continue baking for 10 minutes at a time. It's very important to check to see if they are done, because if you take them out too early and let them sit they will become lumpy looking and won't look smooth or pretty.