Lately, I’ve been obsessed with The Great British Baking Show. Anyone else?
I don’t know, there is just something so calming and enjoyable about these at-home bakers making classic, sometimes obscure and oftentimes challenging recipes all while keeping a sense of determination and compassion for their fellow bakers. Maybe even more importantly, it always inspires me to get into my kitchen and try something new.
And in this case, that something new are these Chocolate Peppermint Meringues. While I’ve eaten plenty of meringues in all of its forms and styles - Swiss, French, Italian, Pavlovas and even as a topping on cakes - I had never actually made it myself. Perhaps it was the intimidation this notoriously difficult (albeit it misunderstood) baking foundation has surrounding it. But with all my binge watching The Great British Baking Show I felt ready to conquer the meringue.
First things first, let me put this disclaimer out there: I am certainly not a baker. While I like to make desserts and even baked goods from time to time, I’m much more comfortable with the savory side of things. Most likely because baking is much more a science that one realizes and if I’m honest, math & science were never my strong suite. I’d much rather be able to throw things into a pan, tasting and adjusting as I go rather than crossing my fingers hoping my baking ratios are accurate.
But I’m here to tell you that meringues are MUCH easier than you think, even for those of us who may be a bit baking challenged. In fact, I found the whole process to be oddly satisfying. From watching closely to see when my meringue had reached stiff peak status to the anticipation as I waited for them to cool in the oven (no peaking unless you want a cracked meringue)!
If that doesn’t convince you that these are definitely something you should try for the holidays, maybe their festive chocolate and crushed candy cane coating will do the trick. These meringues are light and crunchy when you bite into them plus the dark chocolate and cool peppermint help to balance their sweetness.
A few other notes about this recipe:
Shortcuts: Room temperature egg whites are best here as cold eggs will make it harder to whip up properly. To quickly bring the eggs to room temperature, fill a large bowl with warm water and let eggs sit in the bowl for 5 minutes before removing, cracking the eggs and separating the whites.
You can potentially substitute raw cane sugar for the granulated sugar, however, this will lead to a less white meringue. Additionally, the meringue can be a little grainy/granular as the sugar does not blend as well.
If you prefer milk chocolate, you can use that as well. However, I really like the dark chocolate here as it balances out the sweetness of the meringue.
Alter the amount of peppermint extract according to your preference. We like a really cool, refreshing hit of peppermint so the 1/4 teaspoon works well in our house but you can start with 1/8 teaspoon and give the meringue a small taste before baking and incorporate more if necessary.
Egg Yolks: Obviously making meringues means you will have leftover egg yolks. Use them to make homemade aioli, lemon curd or check out this article with more ideas.
Chocolate Peppermint Meringues
Makes: About 24 meringues
Time: 3 Hours
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 -1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (depending on how much you LOVE peppermint)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Natural red food coloring (optional)
3 candy canes, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 230F and line two baking trays with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, add the egg whites. NOTE: It is very important that the bowl has no moisture or grease in it. See above for tips for meringue success.
3. Using the whisk attachment or beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add the peppermint extract and cream of tartar. Beat for another 30 seconds or until well combined.
4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Wait about 15-20 seconds in between each tablespoon to make sure the sugar is dissolved. I like to stop about every 3 tablespoons to wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the sugar is not sticking to the sides.
5. Continue to beat the meringue on medium speed until the mixture increases in volume and stiff peaks are formed. You know you have reached stiff peaks when you turn over the mixer whisk or beater and the peak stands up straight. Once stiff peaks are formed, stop mixing!
6. If you wish to create the striped effect as shown in the photo here, you will need to paint three stripes of food coloring going up on the inside of a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Alternatively, you can mix a few drops of food coloring into the mixture before gently folding it together and adding to the piping bag. I find with this method, however, the striped tend to blend more making the meringue a light pink color. NOTE: If you don’t have a piping bag you can also just spoon the meringue mixture onto the lined baking tray.
7. Pipe 24 meringues onto the baking trays. If using a piping bag, the trick to getting the meringue off the tip is to push down a little and then pull up before you pipe the next meringue.
8. Bake the meringues for 1 hour (be careful not to open the oven door during this time as meringue is super sensitive to changes in heat). After 1 hour, turn the oven off and let the meringues sit, untouched in the oven for at least 1 hour. Remove the meringues from the oven and set aside.
9. Place the crushed candy canes on a shallow plate or bowl and set aside.
10. Place a medium saucepan filled with about 1-inch of water over low heat. Place a medium glass bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom does not touch the water (FYI: this is known as a double boiler which allows you to melt chocolate without it getting too hot).
11. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally. Once completely melted, dip the bottom of each meringue into the chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Roll the bottom of the meringue in the crushed candy canes and then place the meringue on its side to set (they might roll a little)!
12. Let meringues set for 30 minutes before serving. Store leftover meringues in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.