Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Cookie You Won't Forget

I'm sure that almost everyone out there has a go-to recipe for cookies that they pull out around the holidays.  You know the one I'm talking's the one that if, for some reason, you don't make one year, you never hear the end of it.  "Mom, where are the _____?"  "Why aren't there any ______?"  "Thanks for the cookie plate, but I really missed those ______ you make."  In my house, there are a handful of these.  both the hubby and I come from some cookie-loving heritages, so we have been handed down some darn good recipes.

One of my family's recipes is always a hit with family, friends, neighbors, and so on.  My mom calls them "forgotten cookies", because you leave them in the oven and "forget" them overnight.  My kids call them "those white cloud cookies".  They're basically a meringue cookie, very fancy to serve, but deceptively so, because they are pretty darn easy to make.

These cookies are great to make at the end of a day of cookie making, because you need an oven that has been hot, but is no longer heating.  If you don't happen to have a hot oven, preheat the oven to 375, and then turn it off before you put the cookies in.

First, take 2 egg whites.  I used 3 in the batch that these pictures are from, because I used 3 egg yolks to make this rum cream pie recipe from Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life.  Highly recommended, by the way.  The book AND the pie.  Or, if you're feeling festive, you can use the yolks in homemade eggnog.

Anyhow, take the egg whites and put them in the bowl of your mixer (or a bowl that you can use a hand mixer with, if you don't have a stand mixer).  If you don't have some sort of electric mixer, this may not be the recipe for you.  Unless you have exceptionally strong wrists and an hour with nothing to do.  Beat the egg whites until they get frothy.

Then, add 3/4 cup of sugar.  If you have more than 2 egg whites, adjust accordingly.  I'm just going to give the measurements for the 2-white portions to keep it less confusing than it seems to be getting at the moment.  So, 2 egg whites, 3/4 cup sugar.  Set your mixer to high and let it ride.  For a while, usually between 8-10 minutes for me, until it forms stiff peaks when you dip in a utensil and pull it back out.  During this time is a good time to grab something to mix in.  Or, if you're me, try to figure out where the heck you would have stashed two bags of candy pieces that usually wouldn't be around here.  Turns out I unpacked them into the pantry with the sugar...makes sense, I guess.

See the little peaks?
Once you have stiff peaks...*giggle*.  Sorry...once your egg whites and sugar have been beaten to the stiff peak stage, throw in a teaspoon of vanilla for a quick mix and then stop the mixing.

Gently fold in a cup of whatever sweets you'd like.  This year, I'm trying a couple of new options with toffee bits (one of the hubby's weaknesses) and peppermint bark chips, but mint M&Ms or mini chocolate chips are always safe choices.  If you're mad at me for including such processed options (hey, in my defense, it's once a year!), you could go more natural with nuts (pistachio would probably be awesome, now that I think of it...gonna have to try that one!) or possibly even dried fruit chopped tiny.   Or, you could just leave them without any mix-ins.  Little clouds of deliciousness.  Be very gentle as you mix, so as not to deflate the egg whites.

Using two spoons, place dollops of the fluff onto parchment covered cookie sheets.  Size doesn't really matter here, but I usually go for bite-sized.  You can place them pretty close, because they don't spread.  If you want to get really fancypants, you could pipe them onto the trays, but that probably wouldn't work well if you had mixed in goodies.  An M&M can really jam up a pastry tip.

Make sure you turned off your oven, and then stick the trays in.  Forget them.  For at least 6 hours.  Overnight is nice, because then you won't be staring in your oven all day waiting for the moment that you can dissolve one of these babies on your tongue.  Just be sure that you don't truly forget them...turning on the oven for breakfast in the morning and wrecking these would be tragic.

In the morning, the cookies should be dry and peel off the parchment easily.  Be gentle, because they will crumble if you are too rough with them.  These cookies are delicate, whispy.  They melt in your mouth.  They are a standout on a cookie platter.  The name "forgotten cookie" becomes suddenly ironic, because you will never forget about how good they are.

Store them in a dry place, because moisture is their enemy.  Don't stress too much.  They probably won't last long.

Mine turned out a little soft in the middle this time, which could be because I got greedy and mixed in too much of the candies, or it could be because it got so cold last night that my oven didn't hold the warmth as long.  I stuck them in the oven again this morning, after I made cornbread for breakfast, and it fixed them right up.  Melted the candies a bit along the way, but I don't think anyone's going to turn them down.  They are still tasty!

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