Meringue kisses, made three ways. Perfect little treats for
Recently one of my good friends who got engaged over Christmas (yay!) told me about her wedding venue hunt. She may have found her venue, and its all incredibly exciting. One thing she said got me thinking, she told me trying not to get too bogged down in the need for perfection on her day. It made me reflect about our wedding day last summer. It did, I’m afraid bring out the perfectionist streak in me, and start me thinking that I wasn’t good enough if I couldn’t pull together the most incredible day full of carefully curated, thoughtful, personal details. Some days I look back and I’m so proud of everything we achieved. Other days I find myself obsessing over the details with a sense of, not failure exactly, but disappointment in myself over that I didn’t do more.
Before I go on I should start by saying I loved our wedding. It was the most magical day, and felt so full of love and happiness. I came away married to my best friend, and nothing can beat that feeling. I was incredibly lucky to have achieved my dream wedding, getting married in my village church, then filling the garden of my family home with everyone dear and special to us. I can’t fault those things in anyway, and I wouldn’t change a single moment. When I think about our day I do have that ‘best day of my life’ feeling. However the perfectionist in me still, nearly 6 months down the line, picks over the details. The things that didn’t get done, the plans that fell aside in the last few days.
I still have a notebook filled with a list of things I planned to do for the wedding. All the things I was going to bake, all the crafts I’d been planning for months. I still get a bit annoyed with myself when I think of those things that I didn’t manage to tick off. I don’t know why I think like this. In the weeks and months leading up to our wedding hours and hours and hours of work were put in, not just by us but by so many friends and family. My Mum made all the bunting and hand stitched napkins. Andy’s Dad brewed up bottles after bottle of home-brew. My brother and sister-in-law turned a workshop into a beautiful whisky bar. We made the invites, the order of services, the favours, the decorations.
We achieved so much. So why don’t I focus on this instead of things that didn’t go right? What is it about weddings that causes this strange need to strive for nothing short of perfect? If this post from Bumpkin Betty is anything to go by, I’m certainly not alone. Its just one day, yes, but one day you’ve put everything into for months and years. Time, energy, creativity, hopes, dream and, probably, a large amount of money.
The wedding cake is one of the biggest things that still irritates me. In fact it makes me cringe a little bit inside when I look through the photographs. I just ran out of time for it. Almost right from the point we’d got engaged I had in my head the image of a beautiful naked cake, covered in fresh flowers, glisteningly tempting fruit, and icing sugar dusted summer berries. I’d planned to bake all the layers in advance and freeze them ready to breeze into the kitchen on my wedding morning and casually throw it all together in a silky bridal dressing gown. Picture Nigella Lawson swanning downstairs after dark and casually whipping up a late night snack while nonchalantly pouting at the camera and you’re pretty close to the image. Go on, laugh! It was a ridiculous aim, clearly never going to happen.
Somehow that baking got pushed back and back until I did a last minute panic bake the day before the wedding. The very same day we were setting up the marquee. Furniture was arriving, there were people all over the house, stuff strewn all over the kitchen. Frankly, it was never going to be the best! To make matters worse, we over packed the fridge full of cheese and pork pies (Sometimes in life you do have to sacrifice cake for cheese!), and the fresh fruit I’d planned to finish off the cake just didn’t fit in. It was left on the side over night, with hopes for the best but after a warm August night by wedding morning the whole selection was mouldy bar about three salvageable strawberries. My naked cake ended up being rather more naked than I ever intended! It bugs me why I didn’t just send someone down to the shops to buy more fruit, but I didn’t think of that. What bugs me more, however, is that I know I’m capable of doing it. I could have achieved the dream in my head, but I didn’t. On the one day when the cake is supposed to draw attention and look perfect I failed.
Another of the little things that never got done were these little meringue kisses. In my hours of wedding Pinterest searching and pinning (which, lets be frank, probably goes a long way to explain my perfectionism!), I fell in love with the Meringue Girls rainbow crates. If you haven’t seen them before, they look like this, and they are just the prettiest thing; a wooden crate filled with a rainbow line up of pretty little meringue kisses.
At £140 though, they are pretty pricey for what is essentially just a box of egg whites and sugar! I added them onto the lists of projects I’d do for myself at a fraction of the cost and, of course, they fell by the way-side in place of more pressing things like table plans and place settings.
I’ve finally found chance to bring my meringue kisses dream to life today with these little kisses, made three ways. Simple stripy vanilla marshmallowey kisses, vivid pink peppermint kisses dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, and sprinkle topped frilly kisses. These would make a perfect Valentine’s gift. They are, really, more of a suggestion than a recipe. You could colour these any colour you like, try our whatever flavours take your fancy. I’m going to use them for a cake recipe later in the week, so check back soon for more ideas how to use these little kisses for Valentine’s Day.
What Valentine’s baking have you got planned this year?
- Recipe adapted from a Meringue Girls recipe via bakerella. I skipped the step to put the sugar in the oven first, partly because I’m lazy, partly because I’ve always just added the sugar in slowly and never had any issues doing it that way.
- I used paste food colouring to dye my meringue as these give a really great colour without affecting the texture of the meringue. They also stick really well to the side of the piping bag. Mine are an American brand found in Hong Kong, but these ones would work really well.
- Its important to have a very clean bowl when making meringues. You can give your bowl a wipe with vinegar first to make sure there is no grease left in it.
- My meringues cracked a bit because I opened the oven to check on them too soon. Don’t open the oven until they’ve had the full 35 – 40 minutes.
- If you’re not sure how to pipe your meringue kisses, or prepare your striped piping bag, Cupcake Jemma provides some great tips in this video.
- I made about 25 kisses from this recipe. Its very easy to scale up and down though, just ensure you’re always using twice the amount of caster sugar as egg whites and you can make as many or as few as your need.
- 3 large egg whites (approx 100g)
- Double the weight in caster sugar (so I used 200g)
- pinch salt
- pink food colouring
- few drops peppermint essence
- few drops vanilla extract
- 50g dark chocolate
- Carefully separate your egg whites into a very clean bowl. Weigh your egg whites, then weigh out double the weight in caster sugar into a separate bowl.
- Start whisking the egg whites slowly. Once you start you see big bubbles in the mixture you can speed up your settings and whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- Add the caster sugar, a spoon at the time, continuing to whisk the whole time. Once you have added all the sugar, whisk the mixture for about 5 minutes. Check the sugar has all dissolve by running a little bit of the mixture between your finger and thumb. If you can still feel any sugar you will need to whisk for longer until it has all dissolved. Add a pinch of salt and whisk to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 90 C / 194F.
- Divide the mixture into three.
- Into one bowl add a few drops of vanilla extract.
- Into the second add a few drops of vanilla extract and a few drops of pink food colouring.
- Into the third add a few drops of peppermint essence and a few drops of pink food colouring.
- Prepare a piping bag with a round tipped nozzle for your first bowl of meringue mixture. Paint the inside of the piping bag with stripes of pink food colouring. Carefully fill the bag. Pipe the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper.
- Pipe your second two mixtures using a clean piping bag each time, and pipe onto the tray. Sprinkle on sprinkles if desired.
- Bake for around 35-40 minutes, or until the kisses come away easily from the paper. Turn the heat off, and leave the kisses to cool in the oven.
- Once cool, melt the dark chocolate. Dip the peppermint meringues in the chocolate and roll in sprinkles until covered.
- The meringues will keep for up to two weeks.