Thursday, July 5, 2012

Striped Meringue Stars

I sure have been throwing a lot of royal icing at you lately, huh? It's high time I piped something a bit softer, so here you go: striped meringue stars. The colors are in honor of the 4th of July (which we're planning to celebrate the following weekend since it fell mid-week), but you could pipe these in any color for any occasion. You'll need a large open star tip, like the Ateco #825…
…and, for this color scheme, Royal Blue and Super Red Soft Gel Paste by AmeriColor
The ingredients are easy. Set out six egg whites until they reach room temperature (separate the eggs when they're cold). 
Beat the six egg whites in a stand mixer until they are very stiff and dry, like this:
 Keep beating them and add a cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of clear vanilla extract (or any flavors you like), and 6 more tablespoons of sugar. Keep beating until the consistency is very thick and smooth, like this:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and lay out parchment paper on three large cookie sheets. You can temporarily anchor down the corners with bottles of AmeriColor if you like:
Prepare an 18" pastry bag. Drop in the star tip and cuff the bag a good part of the way up your arm. 
 When you look in the bag, it should look like this.
 Using a cheap craft store paintbrush, paint three 5" lines equidistant to each other inside the bag.
Start to fill the bag by putting a large ball of meringue from a spatula into the open hole; it will act as a sort of placeholder to keep the stripes from touching each other or other parts of the bag…
 …while you uncuff the bag. Make a smaller cuff (a couple of inches) and fill the bag up with half of the meringue (as we're going to make the meringues in two different colors, red and blue).
 Use the side of your thumb to slide the meringue down toward the tip (and to push out as much air as possible).
 Holding the tip at a 90 degree angle and half an inch above the surface, pipe out as many stars as you can fit on the parchment. You can pipe them close together; they don't spread much, if at all. Bake them for at least 45 minutes, but the time will vary depending on their size, your oven, the humidity, etc. They might need much longer. I look in on them every five minutes or so. The ones along the edges may get done first. When I can pluck one right off the paper and the paper doesn't lift with it, it's done.
 When they pop easily off the paper, they'll leave behind this stunning pattern. I'm having a hard time throwing away this piece of paper.
They'll look just as beautiful on the underside…
…as they do from above. This recipe made about 120 meringues, or roughly 2 servings (I'm only slightly kidding about that last part). 

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