Okay, so Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite stores (grocery and otherwise), so when I poke fun at it, it’s all with lots of love. So the best aisle in Trader Joe’s is without a doubt the aisle with the frozen foods in the bottom freezer and cookies and chocolates on the top shelves. I think I’ve only managed one trip in my entire life where I walked down that aisle without picking something up.
The one product that always makes me giggle when I see people buy is their Vanilla Meringues. I just sometimes want to whisper to people “psssttt, the Dress Circle Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies gets you more bang for your buck”. But for real, if you buy a tub of meringues, you’re really paying $3 for egg whites and sugar. Let’s spend that $$ on more fun cookies!
Meringue cookies are so easy to make and truly a one-bowl recipe. The prep time takes less than 10 minutes, and the cookies spend most of the time in the oven (baking and cooling). In my opinion, the easiest way to go about this is baking it 1 hour before bed, turning off the oven and it’ll be done cooling in the morning.
My meringue recipe uses less sugar than most recipes out there. In my test batches, I find that too much sugar (although helps with keeping the shape of the meringue), takes away the depth of the flavor. The meringues end up tasting like balls of sugar. To add more dimension to the flavor profile, I opted to include orange extract, which I think gives it just enough of a critrus flavor.
Classic Meringue Cookies
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand beater), beat together egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until foamy. On high speed, add in granulated sugar, about a spoonful at a time and wait about 5-10 seconds between each addition. When you reach soft peaks, add in extracts and beat until you reach stiff peaks.
- Spoon egg white mixture into a pastry bag fitted with the piping tip of choice (star tips are the most common). Pipe into 1 1/2 inch rounds on baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave cookies in the oven to completely dry out and cool, about 1-2 hours.
- Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- Not so good at piping? No worries! Most of the meringue cookies I did a swirl pattern using the star tip to create more textural interest. I also did some which I simply piped down and up. You can see in the pictures some where the ridges go straight up and down. These have a very classic look and I think look quite nice as well!
- Think classic meringue cookies are too boring looking? After piping them out on the baking sheet, add some sprinkles to brighten up the meringues.