Call Me Martha

“Comedy just pokes at problems, rarely confronts them squarely. Drama is like a plate of meat and potatoes, comedy is rather the dessert, a bit like meringue.”

-Woody Allen

It happened again.

I had a break in my routine, and I had enough time to get creative.

It’s always an adventure. This time, I decided to tackle meringue cookies for a birthday treat for my 6 year-old, Alexa.

Why? It sounded good, different. They get all kinds of treats at their school. I thought this time I could make a lighter, healthier offering outside of the normal choco-candy-carb laden traditional birthday yums that they had come to expect.

Yes, I decided that a meringue cookie fit that bill. For 6 year-olds.

Sigh.

You know what? I blame my Aunt Carla. She is the epitome of a home entertainer. Any gathering she hosts seems to have the latest what’s-what of food and beverage. She reeks of sophistication, really. I was even thinking that if I pulled these off, I could repeat the recipe at Christmas, and hopefully win some accolades from her.

Yup, none of this had anything to do with the wants of my 6 year-old.

I presented her Google search pictures, and said, “You want cookies for your birthday, honey? What about these? And they’re peppermint, like a candy cane!”

She exclaimed, “Oh, mommy! They’re so pretty!”

There. I got the boss’s approval to proceed.

Meringue 101

It sounded simple enough. Most of the reviews I read under the many recipes I looked at seemed to agree.

They also came with a few warnings:

Make sure everything is at room temperature.

Don’t overwhip.

Stiff peaks, not soft peaks.

Don’t let them brown.

Suffice it to say, I was a little worried. I do have a notorious learning curve.

But there were also rave reviews that said such things as:

This was so easy!

I will definitely make these again!

They came out perfect!

So, there was my cheering section. Yes, I could do this!

How hard could it be?

. . .I really need this printed on a t-shirt. To wear as a uniform.

Creating The Perfect Fluff

So, I had prepared egg whites in a carton that I had removed from the fridge about a half hour before, as advised. I felt the carton. Seemed . . .cool. Well, the directions and most of the other sites I had visited didn’t say I wouldn’t get my stiff peaks. Just said it would take a little longer.

I still had time. Didn’t have to get the kids at school for another few hours.

Measured the egg whites into my bowl, along with the cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. I thought I remembered that the mint went in there at the same time, so I threw that in, as well.

It bubbled like a middle school volcano project. Uh-oh.

I franctically went back to read the directions. Okay. . .yeah . . .it still seemed that I was going all right. Some added before and some added later, but no one seemed to think it mattered.

Whew.

One little side note: They suggested in the reviews and in the various recipes to make sure to use alcohol, not oil-based, peppermint. At the store (your basic Albertson’s), I could only find “mint.”

Well, it had “peppermint” listed as the main ingredient, with spearmint. And it was alcohol-based. I just had to hope it was more peppermint than spearmint. I hate spearmint.

I started whipping this thing up. My mixer really only has one base speed. Power-fast. Everything past that is ultra-fast, super-ultra-fast, and good-luck-hanging-onto-this fast. So, maybe this would take less time.

I was watching the clock. I was watching my bowl.

Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes.

I had already added in the sugar. Still no peaks. It looked like soupy marshmallow fluff. My arm felt like it was going to fall off (why did I go to the gym, anyways?). I also thought I smelled my little mixer motor burning up. Not good.

When I felt the bottom of the bowl, it felt pretty cold. Damn. So the egg whites were not even close to room temperature, apparently.

I had to go all McGyver.

Rather than throw out what I had started, I decided to place my metal mixing bowl in a sink of hot water, and hope that it would give enough of a warm hug to the contents to allow them to peak for me. I used the mixer, plugged into a nearby outlet, and prayed. As much not to get electrocuted as to not let my concoction be a total waste.

It. Worked!

A half-hour later (yes, I said it “worked”, not “fast”), I had squeezed out lovely, light, minty meringue cookies onto parchment-covered baking sheets, which I sprinkled with chocolate chips and placed in the oven. I followed the instructions for “night-night” cookies (oven at 350, you put them in, and shut it off, telling them “night night”, and waking up to perfectly done cookies in the morning).

That evening when we came home, I checked on them.

My little girl was hovering. So, I gave her one.

And she melted.

“Mommy, these are so good, thank you! Can I have another one?”

Then, I melted.

Perfectly-done, mouth-watering meringues. Yes! Not too shabby for a first timer, if I do say so. Sure, they were a bit more on the spearmint side. Sure, I just realized that I didn’t actually care for meringues after all. But these were about as good as they could get, and they were ready to hit the classroom.

The School Test

Of course, I don’t expect 6 year-olds to drool over a delicate meringue. But after Alexa’s reaction, I thought I might have a shot at developing their tastes a bit away from the Oreo cookie.

And apparently, she told everyone in her class about these cookies. So . . .no pressure.

About half of half of half of the kids liked them. My kid was one of them. And in a class of 20 . . .you do the math.

My little girl came over and took my hand.

“Mommy? I’m sorry to say . . .not everyone liked the cookies.”

‘It’s okay, honey. Not everyone is going to like everything always.”

“But, Mommy,” (at this point she’s actually tearing up) “You worked so hard.”

“Alexa, it’s okay. Did you like them?”

She nodded and sniffed.

“Well, more for you when we get home, baby.”

Then she hugged me. And shoved another meringue in her face.

“Happy Birthday, baby.”

Aunt Carla would be proud. The only one that really mattered in the room liked the cookies.

And I’ll be making them next Christmas.

******************************************************************

Find a wonderful recipe for Peppermint Meringues here.

 

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