I’m a sucker for cute. Show me a round-eyed, big-eared animal and I’m a goner. Japanese anime, Littlest Pet Shop Critters, and YooHoo friends are all marketed to people with DNA just like mine. Cuteness freaks. Fortunately, I have two young kids, so I don’t have to be one of those people who buys stuffed animals for themselves. Because that would be weird. Right?
The world of baking and pastry occasionally allows me to translate this fetish into the realm of food. Marzipan woodland creatures tucked around a Yule log, rolled fondant turtles for a cake topper, or cookies shaped like mice? I live for that sort of thing. Particularly when it tastes good.
These mice fit the bill on both accounts: cute and dreamy delicious.
The espresso meringues are delicately flavored with a touch of cinnamon and cocoa, allowing them to delight sophisticated palates and children alike. A dunk in some bittersweet chocolate transforms these light and airy meringues into a holiday worthy treat.
For those of you who don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen crafting meringue mice, simply dip the meringue kisses in melted chocolate and you have an elegant cookie to enjoy.
Spiced Espresso Meringue Cookies
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
→ Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
→ Sift the cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt onto a piece of waxed paper. Set aside.
→ Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Find a pan that your electric mixer’s bowl will nestle into to make a simple double-boiler. (See picture below to see how I do this)
→ In the bowl from your electric mixer add the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar.
→ Set the bowl over the simmering water, whisking constantly (so the whites don’t cook) until the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture feels warm to the touch if you press a bit between your two fingers (3-4 minutes).
→ Transfer the bowl to your mixer. Start out slowly, gradually increasing the mixer to medium-high speed. Mix until the meringue forms shiny, stiff peaks. This should take about 7-9 minutes depending on your mixers’ power. When the meringue is finished, a portion of it will clump inside the whisk attachment of your mixer (bang it on the side of the bowl to free the meringue). See the picture below ↓. This is after 7 minutes on medium-high in my Kitchen Aid.
→ Remove the bowl from mixer and gently sprinkle your sifted ingredients on to the surface of the meringue. Using a large spatula gently fold this into the meringue until there are no more streaks.
→ Gently scoop the meringue into a piping bag, fitted with a large, round, tip. I’m using one similar to a Wilton Round Decorating Tip #1A.
→ Immediately pipe out little “kisses” onto your sheet pan, approximately the size of a Hershey Kiss. It will help to hold the pastry bag straight up and down and keep your tip in the center. When you like the size of your kiss, stop squeezing the bag and lift straight up with a quick movement. This will keep the tips of your kisses from getting too long and subsequently drooping.
→ Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours, or until meringue will release from the parchment paper or silpat easily. When done, leave the meringues undisturbed and turn off the oven. Leave the meringues inside with the door closed for an additional 3 hours or overnight.
→ When completely cool, store for up to three days at room temperature in an airtight container lined with parchment paper.
→ A few hours before serving, dip the meringue kisses in your favorite, melted bittersweet chocolate and allow to sit on parchment paper at room temperature until the chocolate is set. Never put meringues in the refrigerator….this will make them loose their crisp and get sticky.
Yield: About 3 dozen small kisses