Is it possible that Marie Antoinette was misquoted all those years ago? Perhaps she said, “Let them eat Meringues.” The simple confection made of egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and a little flavoring was a favorite treat of the French queen. Gossips at court reported she often sneaked off to her cottage, the Trianon, on the grounds of Versailles and baked these herself.
The French brought them to America where cooks with no royal blood found this delicious dessert—more a candy than a cake or a cookie–absurdly easy to make from ingredients everyone had on hand. I don’t believe there’s a 19th century Southern cookbook that doesn’t contain a Meringue recipe.
Meringues mix up quickly and then bake in a slow oven for an hour or more, until lightly browned. Children and husbands love them—perhaps that’s how they earned the name Kisses. They’re lighter than air itself, but sweeter than sweet.
I’ve also heard them referred to as “forgotten cookies,” no doubt because some recipes suggest they be left in the oven all night long.
4 egg whites (at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Makes two dozen.
STEP BY STEP:
- Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar as you beat.
- When eggs form peaks, gradually add sugar.
- Then add vanilla.
- When mixture forms stiff peaks, drop by tablespoons onto wax-papered cookie sheets.
- Bake at 200 degrees until set and light brown, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
- Store in tins lined with wax paper.
Photo Credit: http://madameguillotine.org.uk/2011/05/16/marie-antoinette-arrives-at-versailles-16th-may-1770/