Saturday, December 18, 2010

Let It Snow

And so the first flakes have fallen on the DC area and residents wasted no time in responding with the traditional panic-stricken hissy fit.  After fighting my way home from work in the daunting 1" of slush, I was about ready to have a hissy fit myself, when I met a woman and her grandson in the lobby of my apartment building.  They were grinning ear to ear because it was the first time either of them had seen snow.  This totally made my day, and I guess it's those little things that we should remember not to take for granted this time of year.

These snowflake cookies will definitely NOT give you a hissy fit, because I think they are possibly the easiest cookies ever to make.  They are also super versatile and you can decorate them any way you like.  My grocery store happened to have uber adorable Andes holiday baking chips, but you could also substitute crushed candy canes, or nothing at all--the peppermint extract provides excellent flavor.  A little hint of red or green food coloring would also be great for the season, but maybe not quite so snowflake-like...

Peppermint Snowflake Meringues
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/4 cup Andes Mint holiday baking chips (optional)
Clear sanding sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

2. Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir gently until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Transfer bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or beat with a hand mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Mix in peppermint extract and baking chips, if using.

4. If desired, fit a pastry bag with an open star tip and pipe small star shapes onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle each star with sanding sugar, if using.

5. Bake cookies until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.   Makes 3-5 dozen, depending on size.

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