…Sweet Hearts for Your Sweetheart!
These “pretty in pink” heart-shaped cookies, made of gluten-free, dairy-free meringue, are as sweet as the valentine you’re wanting to give them to. They are made of whipped egg whites, which give them a wonderfully light and airy texture. A perfect dessert to provide just a little sweet something following a romantic dinner for two.
Bake time: 2 hours baking time
Cool time: 8 hours to “set” in undisturbed oven (this is crucial)
Oven temp: 225ºF
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup + 4 Tablespoons granulated white sugar (superfine works best, if you have it. Don’t use powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops red food coloring, if you want pink cookies
In a small mixing bowl, combine sugar and cream of tartar. Stir well and set aside.
Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or using a hand-held mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they become frothy, about 1-2 minutes.
With the mixer on still on medium-high speed, GRADUALLY sprinkle in the sugar/tartar mixture. Once this is mixed in completely, add in the vanilla extract. Continue beating on medium-high or high speed another 6-8 minutes, or until the meringue mixture is light and white, and will hold a stiff peak. To test the meringue to make sure it has been whipped enough, turn off the mixer and take the attachment off. Does the meringue stay on the attachment and create a stiff peak when pulled out of the bowl. If so, you’re finished beating. If not, re-attach the whisk and continue beating until stiff peaks can be formed.
Once the meringue forms stiff peaks, it is ready to be piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets. If you want pink cookies, add the food coloring now and beat the meringue just until it is evenly pink throughout. Add meringue to a piping bag set up with a small round tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, try this: Use a gallon-size plastic baggie, seal closed, and twist the meringue into a “pouch” to create pressure in one corner of the bag. Using sharp scissors, or a very sharp knife, snip a SMALL hole off the corner of the bag. (This will cause the meringue to flow so let up on the pressure until you’re over your parchment paper. Pipe the meringue into heart shapes, using your creativity to design free-form hearts that are whimsical. You can pipe cookies up to 1/4 inch thick with good results. The thinner ones will be more delicate, but beautiful.
When you’ve finished piping all of your meringue, place baking sheets in your oven (I had to use three racks in my oven) on evenly spaced oven racks. This way the heat will be evenly distributed.
Bake at 225ºF for two hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR during the baking process AND for the following EIGHT HOURS. This is crucial! If the oven door is opened, your meringue cookies will have cracks throughout them.
When the meringue cookies are ready to be “freed” from your oven, remove the baking sheets. Very gently release the cookies from the parchment paper, being careful not to crack or break them. They are delicate cookies and require a delicate touch for this step. Now the cookies are ready to adorn your fruit dessert plate, dress up a little piece of chocolate, or sit whimsically on their own.
Happy Valentine’s Day! May yours be filled with love.