you probably have your christmas/holiday whatnots all put together, baked and packaged. but if you don't and you just need one quick (but impressive) treat to throw together, consider the meringue cookie.
in case you read the word "meringue" and immediately tuned me out in fear of beating egg whites and sugar syrups and gasp using a candy thermometer! trust me. nothing could be more simple. plus, you most likely have everything you need on hand anyway!
2 egg whites, preferably at room temperature
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tb corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract plus 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
add the egg whites to the bowl of your stand mixer. beat the egg whites on medium until they begin to appear frothy, add the salt and cream of tartar.
continue to beat until the egg whites form soft peaks. once you have soft peaks, turn off the mixer.
meanwhile... add the granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 c water to a small saucepan. stir to combine. put a lid on the saucepan and set it over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble.
remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium to medium-high. clip on your candy thermometer and let the syrup cook until it reaches 236 F (soft ball stage).
remove the pan from the heat, turn on your mixer to medium and carefully add your syrup to the beaten egg whites. be careful not to pour directly on to your mixer beater or you could find yourself in the very uncomfortable position of having melted sugar all over you. that would be bad.
once all the syrup has been added turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes or until the egg whites are thick and shiny and have cooled to room temperature. add the vanilla and peppermint extract. if you wish to color your meringue, now would be a good time to do that.
to get the swirl, scoop half of the meringue into a piping bag. color the other half then scoop it into a second piping bag.
then, place both bags inside a third bag fitted with a big star tip. squeeze it all together for perfect swirls!
heat the oven to a low 200 F. on parchment lined baking sheets, scoop or pipe your meringue into little shapes.
bite sized is best, i got carried away and made these too big! once you have them shaped, put them in the oven for 1-2 hours (depending on their size). shut off the oven and crack the door open to let them continue to dry and harden, about 30 minutes to an hour.
these are melt in your mouth delicious and basically not bad for you! it's definitely a treat you don't have to feel bad about eating or giving away.
merry christmas to all!