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Peppermint Meringues

(Makes about 4 dozen cookies)
Peppermint Meringues
Ingredients:

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Optional: White sanding sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat with the whisk
attachment until foamy.  Gradually add the sugar to the egg whites.  Mix on
medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.  Stir in peppermint
extract.

Fit a pastry bag with a large opening star (2D) tip.
Using a small paint brush, make 2 or 3 stripes of red gel food coloring inside
the pastry bag.  Fill the bag with some of the meringue.

Put a dab of the meringue under each corner of the parchment on the baking
sheets.  This will prevent the paper from moving while you pipe the meringues
onto it.

Pipe 1-1/4 inch star shapes onto the prepared baking sheets.
Sprinkle sanding sugar over the cookies before baking, if desired.
Bake 1 hour and 40 minutes until the cookies are crisp but not browned.
Cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks.

Optional: 
After the meringues have completely cooled  Melt 1/2 cup coarsely chopped
bittersweet chocolate in a microwave until smooth.  Dip the bottom of each
meringue into the chocolate and place on a greased baking sheet.  Allow the
chocolate to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Meringue cookies are crisp and as light as air.  The candy-cane look is created by striping the pastry
bag with red food coloring before adding the egg white mixture.  They can also be made with all one
color by simply blending some food color into the egg whites.  You can change the flavoring from
peppermint to whatever flavor you prefer.  This is a delicious gluten-free cookie.
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HOLIDAYS  > ITALIAN CHRISTMAS  >  CHRISTMAS COOKIES  >  PEPPERMINT MERINGUES
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Many people prefer to use meringue
powder or powdered egg whites in place of
the raw egg whites because of the risk of
salmonella when using raw egg whites
and also for its ease of use. Meringue
powder is a fine, white powder used to
replace fresh egg whites and is made from
dried egg whites and sometimes contains
sugar, cornstarch and food gum. When
beaten with water and confectioners sugar
it has the same consistency as icing made
with fresh egg whites.
MERINGUE POWDER
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