Monday 28 December 2015

Festive Treats

After spending a fantastic weekend in Dusseldorf, eating and drinking my way around the Christmas market, I returned home full of the spirit of Christmas and ready to get my joy on. This rapidly translated into baking something naughty but nice (naturally!), that is both super tasty whilst also quite seasonal!

These meringue goodies are a traditional winter treat in Austria, where they pride themselves on creating some of the lightest, crispest, sweetest confectionery that is almost too pretty to eat! These delicious meringues are not only fairly easy to make at home, they are also incredibly moreish and make wonderful festive gifts either wrapped up as they are or prettied up with a touch of ribbon, to tie and adorn the Christmas tree (as popular in Austria!).

All you need is:
6 egg whites (do your best not to burst the yolks!) and a pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
200g icing sugar (preferably sifted but if you're incredibly lazy like me then maybe, just maybe you can skip this step...)
20g vanilla sugar

sugar sprinkles/ decoration

piping bag & nozzle or free hand it perhaps!
baking tray lined with parchment
mixing bowl
whisk or electric mixer (highly recommend an electric whisk of some kind)

May I also suggest you have a large mixing bowl for this project, as I speak from experience, this baking lark can get a little messy. You have been warned! (I managed to cover my kitchen and pjs in delicious meringue mixture!!)

Whisk (in your large mixing bowl) the egg whites and pinch of salt until you reach stiff peaks of fluffiness. Don't lose heart, this can take a while. The mixture will froth and grow, this is all good in the hood. Once you have desired peaks, add slowly your caster sugar and continue whisking. The mixture should become glossy at this stage!

Carefully fold into your shiny mix, the icing sugar and vanilla sugar, gently goes it, fold until all is mixed nicely together.


Next step can get a little sticky. Have your lined tray at the ready and pop the oven on at 100*. Take your piping bag and attached your nozzle of choice, then fold the top edge of the bag over towards the outside an inch or two (this should help avoid some mess). Carefully spoon your mixture into the piping bag, fold the ends back over and twist the bag until you have a firm grip then begin creating your forms. I went for circular shapes and did this by piping in a tiny circular motion as I made a larger circle. Add your edible decoration!

Pop these lovelies in the oven for anywhere between 1.5 hours to 3 hours, you just need to give them a poke as they bake. You want a crisp outside but not over cooked. Open the oven door every 15 mins or so to let the damp air escape, this is perfect intervals to check your baking progression. When you're happy, take them out and allow them to cool. Try not to eat them all at this point, but of course allow yourself first dibs!

Next step, snip up a few bits of ribbon, tie gently into loops big enough to hang on your tree.

And that's about it! Your finished meringue, festively fun and super sweet!

I applaud you if you manage to keep a lid on that cookie jar after making these... I simply can not stop eating them. Luckily I made extras for such a situation (I know how greedy I can be!). The mixture stretches quite far, I managed to make two full trays worth and still had left over. What I didn't eat with a spoon, I covered with cling film, popped in the fridge and made teeny tiny snow drops the next day... That also didn't last much more than a day! Oh well!

I hope you enjoy giving this a whiz and do let me know how you get on, and if you have any other meringue recipes I should give a go! Wishing you all merriment and joy, full bellies and lots of love!!

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