Saturday, December 7, 2013

Creme de Menthe Meringue Clouds

Don't you love when restaurants give you after-dinner mints? It somehow makes getting the check just a little easier. While I adore the melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese mints, I'm an absolute sucker for Andes. The smooth blend of mint and chocolate is irresistible, and anyone willing to hand theirs over wins immediate brownie points with me.

When I first saw that Andes released a line of baking chips, I immediately stuck a bag in my cart while visions of creme de menthe ice cream danced in my head.
Sadly, that first bag never saw the inside of a recipe. Neither did the second bag I bought. I kept munching on them a handful at a time until all the little morsels were gone. Shameful, I know.

The third bag must have been the charm (or I just gained a little self-control) since these irresistible chips finally got put into a recipe instead of my mouth.

And what a recipe. These little meringue cookies are really something. Light as a feather when you pick them up, immediately crunchy when you bite into them, and wonderfully chewy at the finish. The creme de menthe morsels really shine in these little clouds, and the minty factor is amplified ever so slightly by including the tiniest bit of peppermint extract in the meringue itself.

These meringue cookies are a must for the holiday season, especially since they are fairly low in calories (well, for a cookie) and gluten-free!
Creme de Menthe Meringue Clouds
Adapted from Skinnytaste
Yield: about 30 cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar, preferably superfine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 drops peppermint extract
1 cup of creme de menthe morsels
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, with one rack positioned in the lower third and the other in the upper third. Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper; set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until frothy; add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about one tablespoon at a time, then the extracts, until stiff peaks form and the mixture is thick and glossy.
Fold in the creme de menthe morsels. Drop mixture by the tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake meringues for 20 minutes, then switch the position of the baking sheets, also rotating each sheet 180 degrees. Continue to bake until the meringues are just dry, another 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Once cooled completely, store covered at room temperature.
-You can make your own superfine sugar by putting regular granulated sugar in the food processor and pulsing it until it becomes powdery.
-If you can't find the creme de menthe morsels in your grocer's baking aisle, substitute with any creme de menthe candies and chop them finely.
-I used a small spring-loaded scoop to dish out the meringues into their cute, cloud-like shapes. A regular spoon might not create as much volume, but they will still be tasty.

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