Peppermint Meringues

I consider myself a semi-professional military “movee.” And if I’ve learned anything from four military moves in the past two years, it’s this: suck. up. to. your. movers. period.

On the list of people you should always attempt to charm, movers are second only to your mom. Or maybe your IRS auditor. Or your boss. Okay, they’re in the top five, anyway.

Because, at the end of the day, those men determine in what state all of your earthly possessions arrive at your new location (or worse yet, if they even arrive at all). Attached to that lamp your grandmother gave you? Hope the box with your brand new computer doesn’t “get lost” en route? These people have power. Serious power.

Which is why I spent my last day in our Texas apartment baking Christmas cookies instead of packing. More specifically, baking Christmas cookies for our movers. Peppermint meringues, gingerbread bells, Neapolitan icebox cookies…Martha Stewart herself would have been impressed with the variety I managed to pull off in just one day.

Call me crazy, but I’d say those may have been the most successful cookies of my career thus far. I’ve never seen so much packing paper in a cardboard box in my life. The last box I unpacked could have been thrown down a mountain and run over by a freight train, and I’m pretty sure the flower vase inside would have remained intact.

And to be fair, the movers weren’t the only beneficiaries of those cookies. I didn’t hear any complaints out of the hubby, and I may or may not have eaten a few of these peppermint meringues myself…

Peppermint Meringues
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours
Makes about 5 dozen

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Red gel-paste food coloring

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; secure corners with masking tape. Fit a pastry bag with a small open-star tip (such as Ateco #22). Set aside.

Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir gently until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Mix in peppermint extract.

Using a new small paintbrush, paint 2 or 3 stripes of red food coloring inside the pastry bag. Fill bag with 1 to 2 cups meringue. Pipe small (3/4-inch-high) star shapes onto prepared baking sheets. Refill bag as necessary, adding food coloring each time.

Bake cookies until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

You can make the meringues a week ahead and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (though not in the freezer or refrigerator). Any humidity or moisture will soften the meringues.

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