True story - I'm a recovering magazine addict. For years, I literally could not go into Target, Barnes & Noble, BJ's, etc. and not leave without a magazine in hand. It wasn't until piles of magazines started collecting in various spots around the house that I finally realized there might be a problem. These days I subscribe to a few of my favorite magazines and pick up maybe one or two special issues, usually around the holidays. Holiday baking magazines are the best!
So, when my friend Lauryn of Bella Baker contacted me to say she was authoring a holiday baking magazine this year and offered me a copy to review, I jumped at the chance! I met Lauryn through the Tuesdays with Dorie group years ago, and not only is she super sweet, she's also incredibly talented in the kitchen. She runs a dessert business, Bella Baker, and creates some seriously amazing dessert tables.
One of the things I love about Sweet Gifts is that it doesn't just include ideas for Christmas; there are also recipes for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and New Year's Eve. And beyond that, Lauryn included simple craft projects plus tips and tricks for pulling together your own dessert table to complete your holiday celebration! From pumpkin swirl brownies to peppermint cheesecake and Grandma Harriet's old-fashioned apple cake, there's a ton of variety in the recipes. If you're looking for edible gift ideas for friends and family, there's definitely something for everyone!
I have a list of desserts I want to try from the magazine, but thanks to a freezer full of egg whites I'm trying to work my way through, I started with these red, white, and green meringues. They're light and airy - made primarily with just two ingredients, egg whites and sugar, so they're a nice change from some of the heavier holiday desserts. The hands-on time required is minimal, and the meringues are open to lots of variation. Here the pastry bag is painted with red and green gel paste food coloring prior to piping to give them a festive holiday look. You could flavor them with a variety of extracts too, peppermint would be an obvious choice for Christmas. I love their glossy appearance and the way they practically melt in your mouth - I devoured more than my fair share before handing the rest off to Shane's dad this week :)
Red, White, and Green Meringues
from Sweet Gifts: 95 Fabulous Holiday Desserts & Crafts by Lauryn Cohen
3 large egg whites (about 90 g), at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
red and green gel food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 200 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Add the egg whites, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisking frequently, heat the mixture until it is very warm and the sugar has dissolved. The easiest way to check is to rub a little between your fingertips - if it feels gritty, it's not there yet. Once the mixture feels smooth, proceed.
Add the salt and cream of tartar to the mixture, then place the bowl on the mixer. Beat on medium high speed until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks - about 7 minutes. The outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
Meanwhile, fit a pastry bag with a star tip (I used the Wilton 1M). Use a small paint brush to paint a line of red food coloring down the inside edge of a disposable pastry bag. Paint a stripe of green food coloring down the opposite inside edge of the bag. Transfer the meringue to the pastry bag. Pipe small star shapes onto the prepared baking sheets. (Note: if you need to re-fill the bag with extra meringue, you need to repaint the stripes.)
Bake the meringues for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until they are crisp and completely dry inside. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the meringues cool completely. Once they're cool, transfer to an airtight container (if you have to layer them, use sheets of parchment in between).
Makes about 40 meringues
Disclosure: A copy of Sweet Gifts was provided to me at no cost, but this is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are my own.