meringue “thin mints”

In dessert on December 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

somebody told me recently they liked reading about my missteps in the kitchen.

well, happy birthday to you. here’s an epic failure.

the plan was to make chocolate-mint meringue kisses for my office sweet-swap (more about that later), and i looked up a few recipes to compare.

first mistake: my dependable fannie farmer cookbook called for superfine sugar, but my not-so-dependable trader joe’s didn’t have any. (they didn’t have any plain old white vinegar, either, but that’s a different story/recipe all together.) i had seen a recipe online that used powdered sugar instead, and since tj’s had that, i decided to substitute. even though my mother cautioned me not to. bad move.

second mistake: i tripled the fannie farmer recipe. (we owed 3 dozen cookies to the swap, the recipe made one dozen and it was already 8:30 at night) this turned out to be a terrible idea because it caused me to seriously over-beat my egg whites, totally deflating them.

anyway, to make meringue, you start with egg whites. remember how to separate them? i also recommend doing it into a small bowl so in case you make a mistake like this:

fortunately, i was able to fix this one without ruining the whole recipe.


(i saved the yolks, we’ll have some kind of custard soon… and before you ask, YES, that is a wine glass  in the picture. i had a HARD DAY, ok? and NO, that is not why this recipe failed.)

then i measured out the sugar and cocoa and got my vanilla/mint extract ready. i like having everything ready to go before i start baking.

start by beating the egg yolks

until they form “stiff peaks” but are not dry.

at this point you are supposed to add your sugar/cocoa in batches, beating until mixed each time.

i sifted the sugar in because, since i was using confectioners sugar, it was very lumpy.

when you have most of it mixed in, you add the vanilla/mint extract and fold in the rest of the sugar/cocoa. i think at this point i was beginning to realize i had a disaster on my hands.

see how deflated and batter-looking this is now? bad bad bad. it should be fluffy fluffy fluffy. i think that because i had tripled the recipe, i had so much extra sugar/cocoa to beat in that i totally destroyed the egg whites.

but since it was now around 9 pm and these cookies were due IN THE MORNING, i had to soldier on.

i spooned the mixture into my improvised piping bag and cut the tip off.

when the “meringue” began to POUR out of this hole as soon as i cut it, i finally realized the enormity of this failure.

there was no way i could pipe kisses because it wouldn’t/couldn’t hold its shape.  instead i got turd-like puddles.

mistake three: i didn’t set out enough parchment-lined baking sheets (probably because i didn’t have any more!) so as the meringue mixture is pouring out of the bag and dripping down my arm, i’m yelling at him to lay out more parchment somewhere! anywhere! where? there’s no counter space left! THE FLOOR!!!!

oh yes. it was magical. and there are no pictures of that. thank god.

i ended up having to improvise to get all the turds – i mean, meringue thin mints – into the oven.

yes, i baked them on a cooling rack.

and to make matters worse, they didn’t all fit into the oven, so there was some stacking involved.

bake for one hour at 250 degrees, then let them sit in the oven for at least 6 hours to dry completely. don’t open the door! they have to sit undisturbed.

this is what you are going for:

credit all*you


reports from the tasters actually were somewhat positive. mine ended up like the inside of a girl scout thin mint – crisp, chocolaty and minty. if i had had time, i should have dipped them in melted chocolate to complete the effect.

  1. i absolutely am IN LOVE with the picture of the cookie trays stacked on top of one another EPIC!! :D <#

  2. at least they tasted yummy! I wouldn’t call it an epic failure…more like an experiment with an alternative result :)

  3. Dear AKP – when i lived in the apartment over your family’s home on Water St. and your mother would have a cooking “failure” i would hear the yell of frustration, grab a bowl and attempt to get to her kitchen before the perfectly-delish-but-doesn’t-look-like-the-photo-in-gourmet food hit the trash can. i’m so totally enjoying your reports since your dad proudly told me about your blog. happy, happy birthday!

  4. OK. So these may not have looked as pretty as you would have liked, but how did they taste? (Thinking chocolate mint turd-meringues don’t actually sound half bad.)
    Loved reading about your work process. Thanks for the chuckle!

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