Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lemon Meringue...Cookies?

Face it, you thought I was going to say pie, right? Well that's exactly what I was thinking when I came up with this crazy idea. Let's start at the beginning shall we? Back before Valentines day I was scoping out cookie recipes (to make for V-day for all my friends/loved ones) and I came across a nifty idea on a random food blog page that taste spotting had suggested. The idea was this: take a box of cake mix, forget the directions on the back, add one stick of butter and one egg and voila you have cookie dough! What an awesomely cheap way to make a ton of cookies to give out to everyone! What's better is that I was stuck with the idea to make red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting for the ultimate in heart-felt (and shaped) cookie goodness. Well, upon purchase of my red velvet cake mix I had to get a box of lemon cake mix too as there was a buy-one-get-one-free sale at the Teeter. The red velvet cookies were wonderful and until this past week the lemon cake mix box sat alone just begging to be made into something tasty. I got to thinking that though lemon cookies would be good they needed something...more. Lemon meringue pie is a classic diner delight not to mention one of my Dad's favorite kinds of pie, so why not make lemon meringue cookies? (I asked myself). Why not, indeed! And so began the great cookie experiment. Below you can see the results and they were quite successful if I do say so myself.

For cookies:
1 Box lemon cake mix
1 1/4 Stick butter softened
1 Large egg

Mix all of the above together and let chill till firm and rollable. Other recipes only call for 1 stick of butter but I found that the dough is a bit too crumbly for my liking so I upped the butter and this seemed to give me the kind of dough I wanted.

For Meringue:
(note, this is my take on 'soft meringue' from my Betty Crocker cookbook)

4 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
4 tsp corn starch

1. Put sugar, corn starch and water in a sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir constantly until it thickens.
3. When it begins to boil, let it do so for about a minute then take it off the heat and stick it in the fridge.
4. When your stabilizing agent (what you just created with the corn starch) is cooled put your egg whites in a medium bowl with the salt.
5. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.
6. Spoon in what now looks like thick syrup a little at a time and continue beating your eggs until you have nice stiff peaks.
7. Spoon into piping bag with whatever tip you feel like using.

When this is all said and done things should look something like this:

Now for the actual baking.
1. Preheat oven to 300°F
2. Roll out dough and cut cookies in whatever shape you fancy
3. Decorate with meringue. Feel free to pile them high as the meringue will shrink a bit when it cools.
4. Bake cookies for 15 mins or until meringue turns nice and golden brown and cookies look done on bottoms.

If you end up with extra meringue (like I did) you might want to try this:

1. Line baking sheet with parchment(like you don't do that anyways right?)
2. Spoon out meringue into a nice thick circle onto the sheet
3. Bake at 250°F for about an hour, turn off oven and let the meringue cool completely.
4. The result is something akin to a sponge or angel food cake that is oh so delicious topped with some warm berries.

Other thoughts/notes:
The reason that these are cooked 'low and slow' is because the meringue is rather delicate and will burn. I have to say I was surprised how well this all turned out as everything from the temp to the bake time was just guess work on my part. If I were to make these again I would love to line little mini muffin tins with the cookie dough and fill them with the meringue. I think the effect would be something like a cookie-tartlet crossed with mini lemon meringue pie. If you end up trying this recipe or get inspired by it please feel free to post your thoughts and ideas. Feedback is always welcome.

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