Toasted Nut Meringues · GF (about two dozen)
At work I’m often stuck with a rag tag collection of broken meringue nests, cracked macaron shells, and pulverized bits from a leftover jar of candied pecans.
Jumbled together, these unattractive-but-delicious doodads make a thrifty garnish for Cranberry Pumpkin Parfait, but that approach doesn’t exactly make sense at home. You don’t need need such a nuanced collection of crunchies when a handful of meringues will crumble into something equally crispy/chewy/nutty/perfect.
As a Southern gal, I always wind up reaching for pecans, but feel free to use whatever’s on hand. While I’m just crumbling them up for a crunchy garnish, the recipe will work equally well for making meringue shells, cookies or dacquoise.
Toasted Nut Meringues, two dozen 3” discs or 3 cups of crumbles
5 ounces toasted pecans, or your favorite nut
1 ounce powdered sugar
5 ounces egg whites, from 4 large eggs (yolks reserved for Whipped Pumpkin Custard)
9 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 225° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you’d like, prepare a piping bag with a 1/2” plain tip. Otherwise, you’ll need an offset spatula or spoon to spread the meringue into a thin layer.
Pulse the pecans and powdered sugar in a food processor until fine, or stop after a few seconds to keep the texture chunky. Set aside.
Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir with a fork until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites feel hot. Use a whisk attachment to whip the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, another 5 minutes or so.
Take the bowl off the mixer and add the ground pecan/powdered sugar mixture all at once. Fold with a flexible spatula until well combined.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag, if using, and pipe roughly two dozen 3” discs. Otherwise, spread 10 ounces of meringue into a 1/4” layer over each baking sheet.
Dry the meringues in the oven until they peel easily from the parchment and no longer feel damp inside; about 90 minutes. For a chewier meringue, reduce the bake time to 75 minutes.
However you bake the meringues, turn the oven off and use the handle of a wooden spoon to hold the door ajar. Let the meringues cool inside the oven until they come to room temperature.
For cookies, leave the meringue discs whole. For meringue crumbles, smash each disc or sheet of meringue with the bottom of a coffee mug. This low key approach creates an awesome mix of jagged shards, crumbles, and powdery pieces.
Transfer the meringue discs or crumbles to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for three weeks, or freeze indefinitely. The meringues are extremely sensitive to humidity, so make sure the container is truly airtight.