These delicate, crunchy at first bite, and melt-in-your-mouth meringue cookies are perfect for any celebration. You can color them, make different shapes, and decorate with sprinkles which make them a perfect dessert you can adjust for any holiday.
Ingredients and substitutions
Sugar - White granulated sugar will work just fine for our swiss meringue cookies.
Egg whites - What I like about this recipe is that you can use eggs right from the fridge. Anyway, we are going to heat them over a double boiler.
Lemon juice – Just a few drops at the end of whipping your meringue will make it whip faster and make the mixture more stable.
Vanilla extract and salt - You can add any flavoring you want. Just make sure you add it when the soft peaks have formed. Salt, however, can be added to the warm sugary mixture right before whipping.
Make sure that all the tools you use are clean and dry. Egg whites are very sensitive to fat, so any fat that is left from before can ruin your meringue. If you really want to make sure that there's no fat left in your bowl or whisk attachment, degrease them by wiping using a paper towel and a little bit of vinegar.
Don't use a plastic bowl! It's difficult to remove all fat from plastic surfaces and, as I mentioned above, fat is the enemy of meringue.
Use a digital kitchen scale to measure your ingredients. Even though you can choose US cups in the recipe card below, it's recommended to measure all ingredients in grams when it comes to baking.
Separate egg whites from egg yolks using a separate bowl. If even one drop of egg yolk gets into egg white, game over! You have to discard this egg and start over. And if you make this mistake over the bowl you're going to use for whipping, you have to wash it, dry it, and decrease it again. Also, separating one egg at a time over another bowl and then pouring the clean egg white into your main bowl before working on the second egg will ensure that you won't throw away two eggs if contamination happens.
Preheat your oven in advance! You should wait at least 10 minutes after your oven signals that it's done preheating. This way, the heat will distribute evenly, which is always good for desserts like meringue.
Attach the parchment paper to the baking tray with one drop of whipped meringue in each corner. It will almost glue the paper so it won't move while you pipe your meringue.
All meringue should be approximately the same size. If you pipe large and small meringues onto the same tray and bake them together, the small ones will dry faster. If you open the oven to take them out, the big ones may crack.
Step by step directions
1. Preheat the oven to 90C/195F. Combine the sugar and egg whites in a mixing bowl.
2. Heat over a double boiler until the sugar has dissolved completely.
3. Add the salt and whip to soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and whip to stiff peaks.
4. Paint several stripes inside the piping bag fitted with a piping nozzle (I use Wilton 4B piping nozzle).
5. Pipe the meringue cookies onto the baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 1.5 hours. Then, turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let the meringue cool down inside the oven completely.
Meringue turned yellow – Your oven temperature was too high during baking. Next time, try to lower it by 10C. Also, all ovens are not made equal. They can run higher or lower from factory settings. It's always good to hang a small oven thermometer inside so you can see the real temperature inside. This will make you a better baker, since you will be able to better analyze what went wrong.
Meringue got cracks during baking – Either you didn’t whip your meringue to very stiff peaks, or your oven temperature was too high. Also, opening the oven door during baking will cause the baking temperature to drop very quickly, which can result in cracking. So, if you make small meringue (like described in the recipe), don’t open the door for the first hour of baking.
Meringue doesn’t come off the parchment paper easily – You underbanked your meringue. Let them bake for an additional 30 minutes.
The meringue didn’t whip to stiff peaks – This can happen if your egg whites got contaminated with fat from egg yolks or from other foods that touched your tools. Also, some hand mixers don’t have enough power to whip Swiss meringue, so you need to use a stand mixer or do a little trick that I discuss in the next paragraph.
How to whip Swiss meringue using a hand mixer
Some hand mixers are really useless when it comes to Swiss meringue. However, there’s a way around it. All you need to do is whip your egg whites and sugar mixture over the same double boiler that you're going to use to heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar (just turn the stove off and let the residual heat from the steam gently heat the bowl with egg whites while you whip them). The heat makes the egg whites runnier, which makes it easier to enrich them with oxygen. Whipping warm egg whites will take less time and power.
What food coloring to use
For meringue cookies, always use water-soluble colorings. Any gel food coloring will work well since they're all water-soluble. However, if you use paste or powdered colorings, carefully read what it says on the package to avoid fat-soluble colorings that are mostly suitable to color chocolate.
They should be dry to the touch and come off the parchment paper easily.
No, they should be completely dry. Crunchy at the first bite and melt-in-your-mouth after-feel. However, some people want them to be a little bit chewy, so you need to underbake them slightly to achieve this texture. Underbaked meringue cookies are completely safe to eat!
Store completely cooled and dry meringue in an air-tight container for 7 days at room temperature. Do not store them in the fridge!
More dessert recipes
- Digital kitchen scale
- Stand mixer
- Wilton 4B piping nozzle
- Red soft gel paste
- Oven thermometer
- 70 g egg whites egg whites of two large eggs
- 140 g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 90C (195F) and line the baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the egg whites and sugar to a clean, dry bowl made of metal or glass (I use a stand mixer bowl). Mix with a rubber spatula and place the bowl over a pot with an inch (2-3cm) of slightly simmering water. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Heat the egg and sugar mixture while stirring continually, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can check by dipping one finger in the mixture and rubbing it against another finger. There should be no sugar granules left. Alternatively, you can use a thermometer and wait until the mixture reaches around 60C.
- When done, place the bowl into the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the salt and start whisking on medium speed for a minute. Then, increase to high and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and whisk to very stiff peaks. The whole process can take 15-20 minutes depending on your mixer.
- When done, color the meringue using water-soluble food coloring (gel food coloring will work great). Or, paint stripes inside the piping bag fitted with the desired piping nozzle to achieve striped patterns on your meringue.
- Fill the piping bag with the mixture and pipe the cookies onto the prepared baking tray. I make them around 1.5-inch (3-4cm).
- Bake for 1.5 hours on the middle rack without opening the door of the oven. When time is up, turn off the oven, crack open the door, and let cool down completely like this. Serve!