I know you’ve heard the expression, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince.”
Well, I’ve had a little different version this week. It had to do with kisses, but in a whole different sense. It went more like this: “you have to try a zillion versions of Red Velvet Meringue Kisses before you get it right”. Well, maybe not a zillion, but at least three!
I had this idea to do some meringues with a touch of red velvet to make them really fun and special. Three recipes later, with lots of different experimenting with tips and techniques, the kitchen looked like a bomb went off (don’t believe me?). And honestly, that wasn’t even all of the meringues. There were scads more that we were taking pictures of!
But guess what? It was worth it to find just the right recipe and the easiest technique to share with you. And now I’ve got it down pat too, so you may just see a few variations of these delicious meringues in the future!
The best recipe, of the ones I chose to test, is from Martha Stewart. All the meringue recipes tasted quite similar, but it seemed that this particular one was the easiest, yielded the most stable meringue and piped the prettiest little candies. It involved a few minutes of whisking the egg whites and sugar over a pan of simmering water (I did this right in my Kitchen Aid mixing bowl). The technique ensures that the sugar dissolves and the meringues are melt-in-your-mouth-amazing.
Like I said, I tried several different tips, but in the end, the best way was without even using a tip. Yup, just a decorating bag with the point snipped off worked just fine. So you don’t need anything special except some inexpensive disposable decorating bags which make the job a breeze.
And the cool swirls of red velvet? It’s crazy how easy it is: just paint a few stripes on the inside of the decorating bag with the magical red velvet mixture: red gel food coloring (I really like this No-Taste kind from Wilton), a pinch of cocoa and a few drops of water. That’s it.
So, are you ready for some fun, inexpensive, heart-healthy treats? You’ll be thrilled when you see the beautiful, swirly, artistic meringues emerge from that decorating bag. Your family, friends, co-workers, etc. will be just as delighted when they see these gorgeous Red Velvet Meringue Kisses. And when they take the first bite, well, let’s just say “smitten” will be the best description!
P.S. If you’re more in the mood for Pink Velvet Meringue Kisses, just use less of the food color mixture.
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- Preheat oven to 200˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper (I love the rolls from Costco. They last forever and are really nice quality paper. If you don't have a Costco nearby or they are out, you can also order it online). To make nice uniform meringues, trace around a small round object about 1½-2-inches in diameter (I use a spice bottle cover) in rows on the parchment paper with a pen or marker. Leave at least 1 inch between circles. Turn paper over with ink side down on pan. Set aside.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil (you want your heatproof bowl in Step 5 to sit just above the level of the water). Once it's boiling, reduce to a low simmer.
- Combine food color, cocoa and water and stir until smooth. If you have trouble mixing it up, add a few more drops of water. It should be fairly thick and smooth.
- Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl (I use the metal bowl from my Kitchen Aid Mixer). Set bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk for till mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, cream of tartar and salt.
- Beat with a mixer until egg mixture is stiff and glossy, about 6-7 minutes. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers. It should feel smooth and not gritty. The meringue should be so stiff that if you turn the bowl upside down, it will stay in place.
- While mixture is beating, turn 2 piping bags almost completely inside out, leaving just an inch or so of the tip unturned so that you can easily turn it back the right way. With the food coloring/cocoa mixture, paint 4-5 vertical stripes on bags, about ¼ inch wide. If you want the meringues to have lots of red color, be generous when you paint these stripes. If you prefer pinkish swirled meringues, use less of the mixture when painting the stripes.
- Fill bags about ¾ full with meringue mixture, packing it in as tightly as possible. Snip about 1 inch from pointed end of bag and gently shake bags up and down to help meringue mixture settle.
- To keep the parchment paper from shifting, lift parchment paper and place a dab of meringue on four corners of the sheet pans and press paper on top to hold it down flat.
- Pipe to fill in circles on parchment paper. As you finish piping each circle, apply less pressure and swirl the tip off in a circular motion.
- Place in preheated oven and bake until crisp on the outside, but still soft on the inside, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. You should be able to easily lift the kisses off the parchment paper with the bottoms intact. Let cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for a week or frozen indefinitely (yes, they freeze beautifully - you'd never know they had been frozen!)