I can still remember the first time I made meringue cookies and every time I think of that day I remember exactly what the kitchen looked like, the stove, the sun shining through the windows, everything. The reason for that is because I spent that afternoon making these cookies with Luisa, who was one of my favorite cousins while growing up in Colombia. She came home one day and told me that she had learned how to make "merengues" and that she wanted to teach me because it was so easy. We must have been 11 or 12 at the time, beat everything by hand because we didn't have an electric mixer and they came out delicious! Not bad for a couple of kids playing chef in my grandmother's kitchen.
Making meringue cookies is extremely easy if you take the necessary steps. First, you need to get rid of any grease that your bowl and whisk may have, because grease and fat are the enemy. You also need to stabilize your egg whites so they can fluff up and stay fluffed up properly. And last, you need to be patient when baking. Just bake them at a low temperature, let them dry out and enjoy.
And can you use this recipe to make Colombian merengón? Absolutely! These meringue cookies come out crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, which are perfect for making merengones.
Clean your bowl and whisk with a paper towel soaked in vinegar. This will remove any grease they may have.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar or lemon juice in your bowl and whisk at high speed until stiff peaks form.
Now, start adding the white sugar one tablespoon at a time while you're still whisking. Once it's incorporated, touch the mixture with your fingers to see if you feel any sugar granules. If so, keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Now, add the vanilla extract and mix until it's well incorporated.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper to anchor it to the cookie sheet. Using a couple of spoons or a pastry bag, shape the meringues on the parchment paper.
Bake for 1½ hour. Then, turn off your oven and leave the door cracked open to let the meringues dry and cool down for a few hours before serving. You can also store them in an airtight container.
To add color to your cookies, you can add a pinch of food coloring to your meringue.
If you want completely crispy meringues, let them fully dry inside the oven without leaving the oven door open.