Guys, I did it. Baked Sunday Mornings is making our very last recipe from Baked Occasions, and I have baked every single one; this is the first cookbook that I have ever baked through 100%. I feel such a fondness for this book, because our group was with it from the very beginning as recipe testers (we’re even pictured in the book!), and now we’ve baked each and every one, starting in Fall of 2014. As always, it has been such a learning journey for me, pushing me to try things that I otherwise wouldn’t have made of my own volition. I didn’t necessarily intend to participate in every bake from the outset, but the longer my streak continued, the more I was determined to reach the very end with full completion. In reflecting upon the past 3 years of baking, I’ve collected my Top 10 Favorite (I couldn’t narrow it down further) and Top 5 Least Favorite recipes, in no particular order:
Top 10 Faves
- The New Orleans
- Ultimate Birthday Cake
- St. Patrick’s Drunk Bundt Cake
- Brown Butter Apple Cranberry Galette
- Campfire Cookies
- Strawberry Supreme Cake
- Toffee Coffee Cake Surprise
- Wintermint Cake
- Sweet Potato Tart with Gingersnap Crust & Heavenly Meringue
- Mega Easter Pie (primavera style)
Top 5 Least Faves
- Orange Pineapple Walnut Fruitcake
- Cherry Almond Crisp
- Caramel Candy Popcorn Balls
- Chocolate Chip Hush Puppies
- Hippie Cake
So now we are left with this very last recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Chip Meringues from the “12 Days of Cookies” holiday section. Unfortunately I have to confess that I can’t stand meringues– biting into them is like nails on a chalkboard, except it’s happening inside my face. The dry, chalky, scratchy texture is wholly unappetizing to me. The only time I’ve liked them is when we made Brutti ma Buoni for the Italian holiday La Befana— these were soft on the inside, which I realized that I may have underbaked after eating them in Italy last year (where they were quite dry on the inside). But I loved them this way, so I decided to purposely underbake these Christmas meringues as well. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for meringues, I was thankful for these. I’d been reluctant to let go of this summer because the weather has been so lovely, but the triple-digit heat earlier this week had me wishing that Fall would descend pronto, so these little minty gems are a nice reminder of the cooler weather to come.
As with most meringues, this recipe is super quick and easy. I whisked egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks, then gradually added sugar and kept whisking until stiff, glossy peaks formed. (Mine didn’t get super stiff, but they were fine.) Lastly, I folded in peppermint extract, chocolate chips (I used teeny-tiny Guittard Micro Chocolate Chips), and red gel food coloring. I decided that I wanted the meringues to look marbled, rather than a solid pink color, so I first mixed in the peppermint and chocolate chips, then the red dye, which I did not fully blend in.
You can either dollop the meringue mixture onto your baking pan or pipe it into “kisses”, and I chose the latter. The other thing I did to promote a swirly red/pink color is to brush the inside of my pastry bag with more food coloring, which didn’t work super well (the gel just beaded up on the plastic and dripped down between the pastry bag and metal), but it achieved the desired effect, despite being a big drippy, self-inflicted mess. I also neglected to read the directions carefully at this point– we are instructed to make the meringues teaspoon-sized, but I piped 2-tablespoon mounds. Even though I ended up with 24 cookies rather than 40, I ultimately liked the size of these a lot.
I baked the meringues for 50 minutes, about 5-10 minutes less than the recipe calls for, plus I didn’t let them cool inside the oven. Taking these steps also ensured that the meringues didn’t take on any brown color, remaining purely pink/red/white. FYI, it was fine to bake 2 trays at once– I simply switched and rotated them halfway, and all the cookies baked evenly. I was pleased that a) the chocolate chips stayed in place, i.e. suspended throughout the meringues, not sunken at the bottom, and b) the red color didn’t bleed in any way.
If you underbake them, the meringue shells shatter and give way to a marshmallow-like center– just what I was hoping for. The holiday recipes in Baked Occasions taught me to appreciate the combination of chocolate and peppermint, which was never my favorite; the peppermint flavor here is pleasant and not overwhelming, pairing nicely with the chocolate chips. My tasters enjoyed these, especially my friend who can’t eat dairy. I bake very few items without any butter/milk/cream, so this was a nice treat that he could eat.
These Peppermint Chocolate Chip Meringues would be a lovely addition to a holiday cookie exchange. Especially with the swirled color, they are festive and whimsical, and will brighten up any dessert table. Find the recipe at the link just above, where it lives on Baked Sunday Mornings. While you’re there, take a look at my fellow bakers’ meringues– we love to compare, contrast, and learn from each other. So, here we are, officially done with Baked Occasions! I hope you’ve enjoyed these recipes as much as I have, and I hope you’ll continue reading when we move on to the original BAKED cookbook: BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking in 2 weeks. P.S. If you have a baking blog, please consider joining our blogging group! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.