Meringue Cookies – Project 365: Day 95

by matt on May 25, 2010

Today’s food photo is of meringue cookies.  They are so colorful and taste just like cotton candy as they melt in your mouth.

For this shot I placed the meringue cookies on a metal baking sheet which I thought made a nice contrast with the colorful cookies.  I started to arrange them a bit but they were so sticky in my warm hands that I had to eventually move them around with a knife.  I think this was because the recipe called for letting them sit overnight.

I positioned one Canon 580EXII flash in a white shoot through umbrella directly behind the meringue cookies.  The second flash was positioned camera left with a Lumiquest Softbox III attached.  I set my aperture to f/11 and fired off a few test shots.  I then adjusted the power of each flash until I was satisfied with the lighting.

I then opened up the RAW file in Adobe Camera RAW and did some slight adjustment to boost contrast and clarity, remove some chromatic aberrations and apply some slight sharpening.  I then pulled the file into Photoshop CS5 and saved the file off as both a TIFF and JPEG for the web.

If you are interested in making these meringue cookies yourself here is the recipe.

Meringue Cookies

3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup superfine or caster sugar (you can also use granulated sugar that has been processed in a food processor for 30 seconds)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Note: If you want a super smooth appearance on the cookies make sure and use the superfine sugar.

Preheat the oven to 200 F.  Use the rack in the center of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low to medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.  For these my wife made separate batches and used different food colors to create the rainbow of colors.

Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you can rub a little between your thumb and index finger without it feeling gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth.

Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding.  Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip.  Pipe 2 1/2 inch rounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, spoon mounds of meringue, using two spoons, onto the prepared sheets.

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp.  Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying overnight.

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