Leprechaun Kisses

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet and fat-free.  I’m guessing your holiday – because we’re all a wee bit Irish on Saint Patty’s Day, aren’t we? – will include lots of Guinness, corned beef and cabbage and soda bread.  As such, I thought a light dessert like Leprechaun Kisses would put the finishing touches on a day of indulgence.  Enjoy!

Leprechaun Kisses

1/2 cup egg whites
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t mint extract
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
green food coloring
white chocolate, about 4 ounces, melted
green nonpareil ‘sprinkles’

Preheat oven to 200° (or as low as your oven will go) and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine egg whites, extracts and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer {yes, a hand mixer will work just fine}.  Beat with a whisk attachment on medium speed until the mixture forms soft peaks (the peaks fold over when the beaters are raised).  Beating constantly on medium-high speed, gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Raise speed to high and continue to beat, scraping down sides once or twice as needed, for another minute or two until the meringue holds stiff peaks (the tips of peaks just barely fold over).  Stir in green food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired shade is reached.

Transfer meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe ‘kisses’ about an inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 75 – 90 minutes, switching pans between racks after 30 and 60 minutes.  Test the meringues by removing one from the pan and letting it cool for 5 minutes, then bite it (seriously).  It should be dry and crumbly and not sticky at all.  Turn off oven, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and let them cool as the oven does.

Break chocolate into small pieces (or use chips) and melt in microwave or over a double boiler on the stove top.  Spread a small amount of melted chocolate onto the bottom of one meringue and sandwich another to it, bottoms touching.  Sprinkle nonpareils  over the melted chocolate that peeks out between the cookies.

If you choose to use the chocolate, do the dipping and sandwiching the same day you plan to serve.  Meringues are  very sensitive to moisture and their crisp texture will be sacrificed as the chocolate seeps into them.  Un-dipped meringues can be stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

**The FarmGirl’s Notes:

No flour in these cookies means they’re naturally gluten-free.

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Soft peaks fold over and the egg white mixture just starts to show whisk marks.

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It’s very important to add the sugar gradually so it has a chance to dissolve in the egg whites.

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Stiff peaks!

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Add food coloring a few drops at a time.  I used paste coloring that you can easily find at any store that carries cake decorating supplies.

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Cuff the top of a pastry bag over your hand (my left, since I’m a righty) and spoon meringue into the bag, scraping it off with your hand.  Stand the bag up inside a large glass to hold it steady while you finish scraping the last bit of meringue out of the bowl.

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Anchor the parchment corners to the cookie sheets by smearing a small bit of meringue onto the pan: it acts like glue as you’re piping and cleans up like a dream afterward.

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The meringues can be piped fairly close together since they really will not rise much when baking.

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Baking time will vary depending upon the size of your meringues.  You don’t want the cookies to brown at all so keep an eye on them.  If you don’t have a pastry bag and star tip, feel free to dollop spoonfuls of meringue onto the parchment and bake.  They’ll still be fabulous!

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If you don’t want to sandwich the meringues, just dip the tippy-tops into the white chocolate and sprinkles nonpareils over them.

**Mocha Meringues are just as delicious as mint meringues.  Click the link for another meringue tutorial.

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