Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meringue Cookies aka Suspiros

Hello there! I can't believe my maternity leave is almost over... which means my little one is almost 2 months old! Time has just flown by, more so than with my first child it seems. Time just keeps going by faster as you get older huh?
Well, so I'm approaching this last week of being at home as a great time to do things I may not get around to as often once work comes along. One of those things for me is baking, sadly... Although I hope that's not much the case. We'll see... 
Anyways, I want to share this recipe I found for these little heaven-on-earth bite-sized cookies. I had some egg whites sitting in the fridge that I was going to use in a pie as a meringue topping. Then I thought "maybe I can find a recipe for suspiros!" What are suspiros? These are one of my favorite childhood treats from Brasil.  They are crunchy on the outside, but gooey on the inside and it just melts in your mouth. You can get these in treat bags in Brasil, and let's just say that you had to take those bags away from me before I finished it all myself. It is just oh-so addicting!
So I first looked for recipes in Portuguese thinking that I would be lucky there. Not so much... the recipes just didn't look very promising... so then I don't know how but I saw English versions called "meringue cookies". Now why didn't I think of searching by that name? I looked around, and the FoodNetwork had some good-looking recipes by Giada, although hers has espresso and chocolate chips in it. Maybe I will attempt to make those one day, but I wanted my simple/plain version. I finally came across a recipe at Joy of Baking that fit the bill! I mean, the true suspiros that I remember only took 2 ingredients: egg whites and sugar. This recipe also adds in cream of tartar, but that is wonderful since it stabilizes the egg whites to tolerate the heat better when baking. So I made these little gems and let me tell ya that it was everything I had hoped for and more! Taking bites of these truly sent me back to my childhood... I had to really control myself to not eat the whole batch!
Now you could make these big and even top it with some fruit or ice cream (unnecessary in my opinion), but I opted to make them bite sized so that, you know, you can eat more of them! 
Try these today and tell me what you think :)  Enjoy!

~makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies

4 large egg whites
1 cup of superfine or caster sugar*
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Now add the sugar, about a Tbsp at a time, and keep beating the egg whites on medium-high speed until they can hold very stiff peaks (this can be checked by flipping the mixing bowl upside down and nothing would move!!!)
Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag with the big star tip (you can use any other tip you would like, or not even a pastry bag and just 2 spoons) and pipe it onto the parchment paper. Leave a little bit of room between the cookies, but since these don't expand, you don't need to leave a lot of room in between. 
Bake the cookies for about 1.5-2 hours (note: if you have a convection bake option in your oven, I would use that for this instead of normal bake because the fan removes the moisture better from inside the oven). The cookies are done when the outside is solid and the cookies are just a tad golden (just a tad!!!). Turn off the oven and leave the cookies in the oven until room temperature. To store them (if you have any left!), place them in a air tight container, and they will last for several days.

*Sidenote: I recommend having superfine sugar for this as it allows the sugar to be completely dissolved into the egg whites so that you have a smooth cookie rather than a grainy one. To make this sugar, I simply took regular white sugar and processed it in a food processor for about a minute.

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

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