Memaw’s Miniature Meringues

Memaw’s Miniature Meringues

My 89-year-old grandmother passed away this week.  She raised five children and had 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (with two more on the way), so the woman had some cookie recipes up her sleeve.

The day after she died, a conversation on Facebook revealed that several of us grandchildren were thinking about her meringues, as they were one of her trademarks.  What made them so special?  For one thing, they were tiny – she even titled the recipe “miniature.”  Most everything she made was bite-sized–the best way to enjoy dessert, I feel.  They were also often tinted, particularly red or green around Christmas, with festive-colored sanding sugar on top to match.

I took the time to make these with my son last night (he was very helpful adding the sugar to the stand-mixer as the meringue was being whipped.)  As I watched the wire whip spin around the bowl, I wondered how Memaw managed to make these cookies before the advent of $500 stand mixers, silicone baking mats and air-insulated cookie sheets.  I suppose the biggest difference is that love for her family drove her heart to devote the extra time to making these delicate creations.

Thank you, Memaw, for the hundreds of cookies you made me for 31 years, and this lesson your baking has taught me only after you were gone.  I do not know where you originally found this recipe–presumably as long as 70 years ago–and unfortunately, now I never will.

Memaw’s Miniature Meringues

2 egg whites
1 tsp. vinegar
dash of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. sugar
red food coloring
red sanding sugar

Beat egg whites with vinegar and salt until foamy and doubled in volume.  Beat in extracts.  Beat in sugar 1 T. at a time until sugar is completely dissolved and meringue stands in firm peaks.  Blend in a few drops of food coloring to tint meringue a delicate pink.

Drop meringue 1 tsp. mounds 1″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with the colored sugar.  Bake in a very slow oven, 250 degrees, for 45 minutes or until crisp.

Cool completely on the paper and store in a tightly-covered container.

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