Fun fact about me: 4th of July is actually one of my favorite holidays. The only one that beats it is Christmas, but I really love 4th of July. The fireworks, the BBQs, the beach. It’s the best. Naturally, America’s independence means red, white and blue everything, including meringue cookies. I experimented with meringue to make these patriotic vanilla meringue cookies with beautiful red, white and blue swirls.
Meringue cookies are great because they’re so light and actually not that hard to make at all. They have so few ingredients that it’s just a matter of ensuring you mix them properly and with the right equipment. Adding color to the meringue is fun way to brighten up the cookies, and adding a color swirl is really easy. Plus, you can pipe meringue however you want to create cookies in all sorts of shapes. My favorite were the rose swirls!
- Always use a grease-free bowl and whisk to ensure that your egg whites form properly
- Avoid using a plastic bowl for the same reason – I recommend using a metal mixing bowl
- Don’t overmix or you risk the meringue deflating
- Take your time!
Ingredients (makes 18-20 meringue cookies):
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Blue gel food coloring
- Red gel food coloring
- Piping bag and paint brush
First, separate your egg whites in a metal bowl cleaned well to rid any grease. Using your whisk attachment, whip the egg white until foamy. You’ll see them become fluffy but not stiff. When you see heavy foam on top of the egg white, add the vanilla and cream of tartar, and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture thickens. Mix in the sugar little by little – you do not want to add all of the sugar at once. Continue to mix on medium-high speed until the mixture turns bright white and you can see it thickening.
As it mixes, you should be able to see the lines in the meringue when the whisk moves. You know it’s done when you can pull out the whisk and the meringue forms stiff peaks.
In a piping bag, insert a large tip, and paint stripes of food coloring from the tip up to the opening. I made four thin red stripes around the bag and four blue stripes. Then carefully fill the bag with the meringue, twist, and squeeze the bag to check that the color is mixing with the meringue.
Pipe swirls on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet by starting in the middle and swirling out. You should see the swirls of color forming, and as you reach the end of the bag, you may also see less and less color in the meringue. Another great thing about meringue is it will not spread when baked like your usual cookie would, so you can place the cookies as close together as you want. I used the small amount of meringue left in my piping bag to make small blobs in the spaces left on my baking sheet. Might as well use it all!
Bake the meringue cookies at 200 degrees for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Do not open the oven until the cookies have been inside for at least one hour. When the cookies are firm to the touch, remove from the oven and let cool.
You can actually bite into these babies when they are fresh out of the oven, but I recommend waiting until at least the sheet has had time to cool. Eat fresh for best results, and serve for a great 4th of July treat that’s light and patriotic!