This is probably my first blog post with my Indian flavors.
Meringues have always intrigued me! How can a liquid of mere eggs whites , with a few minutes of beating can transform into a cloud ? It can be broadly classified into 3 types – French , Swiss and Italian, depending on the method of preparation. Hot sugar syrup is gradually whipped in the egg whites for Italian meringues , which helps in holding the volume and mostly used for frosting cakes. Swiss has egg whites and sugar heated slightly to get started and then beaten to full volume. The method that is adopted here is the French, probably the most simplest.
A small coastal town in the southern part of India called Tuticorin is well known for their version of meringues. They are called cashew macaroons and I have enjoyed many many boxes of these delectable pillowy cookies, they were a treat! They are very much like Brutti ma Buoni , Italian meringue cookie, made with almonds instead. Here is my version of Brutti ma Buoni gone Indian with the addition of saffron and pistachios! These cookies are light and airy , yet crisp!
Saffron is purely optional, but gives the cookie a lovely yellowish color in the middle and of course adds wonderful flavor. If you choose not to use saffron, then add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract along with cashews. Room temperature egg whites are very crucial for the recipe. Separate cold eggs, leave whites at room temperature for several hours or even over night. Cream of tartar plays a key role in stabizing the meringue, do not skip.
1/2 cup sugar
2 pinches saffron
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Coarsely powder sugar and saffron , I used the small jar of a Nutri Bullet. We don’t want the consistency of confectioners sugar , just a little finer than what it is would suffice. Add contents into a separate bowl .
Add cashews to the same jar, process until no piece is larger than 1/16th inch . Most of the cashews will be powdered fine in the process and that is good ! Set aside.
Add egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of your stand up mixer , beat on high until almost doubled in size , about 1-2 minutes . We want the stage that is before soft peak one. With the machine on low-medium, slowly add the sugar-saffron powder . When all the sugar is done, stop mixer, scrape the sides and return mixer to high and beat until stiff peaks form, a total of 8-9 minutes. Remove bowl from machine, add cashew powder , fold in as gently as you can until thoroughly incorporated. Scoop tablespoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1-2 inches apart. I used a tablespoon measure ice cream scoop. If you do not own one, then simply use two regular tablespoons to scoop out the batter. Sprinkle chopped pistachios on top, bake for 2 hours, turn off oven, rotate the pan , place back in oven and let it hang out for another 2 1/2 hours. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature.
Makes 20-24 cookies