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Topical, Tropical Pandan Meringue Cookies

Ok, Happy to report that the baby shower went rawther well. Everyone had, I think, a nice time; Baby Momma and Baby Daddy were suitably fete’d and got lots of weird BABY thingies; the diaper cake was gorgeous; and the food was very well recieved indeed. Go team!

Promises were made that several of the recipes would make it onto the blog, and since I need to extract the curry puff recipe from J and I kind of have to reverse engineer the peanut sauce and the banh mi bites, we’re kicking off with these lovely little meringue cookies flavored with tropical pandan.

Pandan, or screwpine, is a palm tree-ish plant whose leaves are used in SE Asian, particularly Filipino, cooking. It imparts a really lovely kind of toasty, nutty flavor and a pretty green color. (The latter may or may not be chemically enhanced, but who isn’t these days?)

I’d decided to make meringue cookies for the shower because they were light and pretty but hadn’t gotten much further than that. I wanted them to taste like SOMETHING, though, and they needed to go with the pan-Asian, tropical, purple and green color scheme because I am OCD like that.

So, I was super chuffed when I was rummaging around in the back of my baking cupboard for something to flavor the meringues and I found a bottle of dark green, deeply fragrant pandan concentrate that I’d bought a while ago and promptly forgotten about. (It was between the unopenend yuzu essence and pineapple extract, FYI.)

Hooray for my compulsion to hoard bizarre flavorings, then, because these were perfectly tasty–the pandan concentrate lent a gorgeous on-theme color and richly scented complexity to what is otherwise just sugar and egg white.

Pandan Meringue Cookies
Yield: ~50 cookies
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum

1/2c + 1tbs granulated sugar
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch salt
4 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 1/2 tsp pandan concentrate, divided

Put the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process with the metal blade for 2-3 minutes, till very fine. Pour processed sugar into a medium bowl and add the powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk gently to combine thorougly–no lumps!

In the (spotlessly clean) bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the (also spotlessly clean) whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed till evenly frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add in about 1/4 c of the sugar mixture. When soft peaks form, add another 1/4 c of the sugar mixture and increase the mixer’s speed to high. When stiff peaks form, gradually stream in the remaining sugar mixture.

Continue beating on high for another few minutes till very stiff and glossy and there’s no gritty feeling when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers.

Beat in 1 tsp of the pandan concentrate. Remove 2c of the mixture to a small bowl and add to it the remaining 1/2 tsp of pandan concentrate.

Fit a 16″ pastry bag with a large star tip. Cuff the bag about 3″ from the top and prop it up in a highball glass or similar. Using an offset spatula, spread the 2c of darker meringue up one side of the pastry bag. Being careful not to disturb the line of darker meringue, pack the remaining lighter meringue into the pastry bag. Twist the bag closed.

Daub a little meringue the corners of each cookie sheet to keep the parchment from slipping.

Pipe golf ball-sized stars of meringue onto the cookie sheet and 1 1/2″ away from each other. Hold the bag perpendicular to the cookie sheet, starting about 1/2″ away from the sheet. Squeeze the bag with the hand holding the top, and use the other hand by the tip to guide it. As you squeeze the meringue out, lift the bag away from the pan another 1/2″. Stop squeezing and lift fully away to create a spiffy tip.

Let the piped meringues sit out for about half an hour till they’re lightly set.

Preheat oven to 200° and set racks into the top and bottom third of the oven. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until crisp through but not at all browned. When they’re done, turn off the oven and prop the door open slightly. Leave the meringues in the oven for an additional 1/2 hour.

Remove to rack to cool completely and then store in an airtight container at room temperature, ideally in a dry place.

Notes & Variations:
Obviously, sky’s the limit here on the flavoring front. And, generally, don’t attempt these, or anything meringue-y, when it’s hot and humid. I had the A/C cranked as far as it would go and these still ended up getting a little sticky.

Beranbaum, Rose Levy. Rose’s Christmas Cookies. (New York: William Morrow & Co.) 1990

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