Caramel clouds of meringue marry perfectly with the intense flavor of a concentrated syrup and candied zest in these blood orange and caramel meringue cookies.
The other day (U.S. Southern slang from anytime between the day before the day before yesterday and two decades ago) I was working on a recipe for Samara and Shoshana. Shoshana can’t have anything with milk in it as she’s got a severe allergy and this limits what she can eat for dessert. I’m always trying to find ways to make it up to her. And since Samara is a vegetarian, she’s always trying to find good sources of vegetable protein. She loves beans, but now she’s gotten an infinity for tofu. I bought some soft tofu and was working on using it in a recipe along with some egg yolks. What to do with the egg whites, however.
I’m always checking out cookbooks from our local library and they are really great about including ones from various cuisines. I’d picked up Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean and inside was a recipe for meringue cookies. It used the egg whites from four eggs. Perfect as the tofu recipe had used four egg yolks.
We still have blood oranges in our area. Every week I think this will the the last week, the last chance to use blood oranges in a recipe, but we have been pleasantly surprised how long this beauties have been around. I decided to use them to flavor the meringue cookies. I consulted the The Vegetarian Flavor Bible and decided on pairing the citrus fruit with caramel flavoring and sliced almonds. I was floored with the result. Shoshana took a bite of the cookies and, mmm, mmm, mmmed for a good long while. The caramel and blood orange syrup packs an intense flavor punch that will not disappoint. I only wished I’d made more of them.
Gather your tools. You’ll need:
1. large mixing bowl 2. hand mixer 3. measuring cups 4. measuring spoons 5. spoon 6. cookie sheet 7. parchment paper 8. small pot
Gather your ingredients. You’ll need:
1. four egg whites 2. granulated sugar 3. cornstarch 4. caramel extract 5. blood oranges 6. sliced almonds
Makes 6 large cookies
3 small or 2 medium blood oranges
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons, separated into 3/4 cup, 1/4 cup, & 2 tablespoons portions
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon caramel extract
1 teaspoon blood orange juice, plus more for syrup
Using a vegetable peeler, carefully remove the zest from 2-3 blood oranges. (I found the best way was to “saw” (small scrapes) the vegetable peeler over the rind.) Set aside.
Juice the blood oranges. Set aside.
Heat oven to 275 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whip eggs whites with mixer until they form glossy stiff peaks. (The peaks will be stiff when they begin to form firm ripples in the bowl with every pass of the beater.) Once you have stiff, glossy peaks, very, very gradually (about a tablespoon or two at a time) whip in 3/4 quarters of a cup of granulated sugar.
Once all the sugar is added, fold in (Do NOT whip more) cornstarch, caramel extract, and one teaspoon of blood orange juice.
On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, dollop six even cookies onto the paper. Bake at 275 degrees F for one hour.
Meanwhile, make the candied zest and blood orange syrup. Cut the zest into thin strips. Put into a small pot and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes or until the zest is tender. Add in 1/4 cup of sugar and boil until reduced and syrup takes on a golden brown hue.
With a fork, remove blood orange zest and put on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with about two tablespoons of granulate sugar. Set aside.
Once cookies are done baking and have cooled in the oven, prepare the syrup. Bring all of the remaining blood orange juice and caramel syrup from the zest to a boil and reduce down until thick.
Drizzle syrup over meringue cookies (they will sizzle and crunch a bit), add candied orange zest and sprinkle with slice almonds. Serve immediately.
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