When I made a batch of Tuxedo Meringues a few weeks ago, my dear friend the Lady Otter and I got to talking about cookies. Our conversation went something like this:
“Hey Mouse, you know what would be really cool?”
“What would that be, Otter?”
“Meringues in the shape of sea urchins. You could make them all purple and spikey.”
Her face lit up and my wheels started turning. Cut to today, where I am covered in gooey meringue and my hands are stained with food coloring.
I, think, however, I’ve succeeded—at least for the first generation. Allow me to present my Happy Sea Urchin Meringues.
A note on making meringues
For a detailed explanation on the ins and outs of making meringues—and an Epicurious video of part of the technique—take a peek at my Tuxedo Meringue post.
Also, compared to the Tuxedos, this is not a quick endeavor. These cookies are considerably larger, so they take a ridiculous amount of time to bake. It’s also raining today, and the humidity may be affecting my bake time.
Happy Sea Urchin Meringues
4 jumbo eggs
1 cup white sugar
red food coloring
blue food coloring
Start with your pots and pans
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Fill a medium-sized saucepan about a third full with water. Set on the stove over high heat to bring to a simmer.
Separate the eggs
Start by separating the eggs. For this recipe, you’re only going to use the egg whites. Be careful not to get any yolk in the whites. Even the smallest speck of yolk will keep the whites from whipping up properly.
Stick the yolks in the fridge and use them up in the next day or so. (I’ll probably make some kind of ice cream, which usually calls for yolks, not whites.)
Make the meringue base
Add the egg whites and sugar to a heatproof bowl. To cut down on dishes, I use the bowl of my mixer, which is stainless steel.
Whisk them together well. Set the bowl in the pot of simmering water. Continue to whisk.
Beat the eggs constantly for about 5 minutes until they are heated through and start to fluff up a little and get opaque.
Whip the meringue
In a mixer (or with a hand-held mixer), whip the egg whites on high for about 5 minutes, until they begin to form glossy, stiff peaks.
Add the color
Now, this part is approximate. To get my shade of pale lavender, I used about 10 drops red food dye and about 15 drops of blue.
Stop your mixer. Start with 5 drops of each color, putting close to the center of your bowl. Whip to mix thoroughly.
Take a peek at the color, and add more until you’re satisfied with how they look. Go slowly, as once you put the color in, you can’t get it back out.
Form your sea urchins
You’re ready to drop and form your meringues.
Remove the bowl from your mixer. Grab your prepared pans and two large soup spoons. You could also use a small ice cream scoop if you have one (I don’t).
Using the two soup spoons like salad servers, scoop up a blob of meringue and drop it on one of your pans. Use the back of one spoon to smooth it out.
With a (very clean) finger, gently tap the surface of the blob repeatedly to coax spikes out of the surface.
I tried a bunch of different methods for making the spikes, from tapping the meringue with the back of a small spoon, to stabbing at it with a toothpick and a chopstick. In the end, my finger worked the best.
When they’re ready to bake, your meringues should look about like this:
When both your pans are done, stick them in the oven at 275 degrees for about 2 hours, depending on the size of your cookies. Check them after 1 hour in the oven, and after about 1 1/2 hours, keep a good eye on them. See below for notes on doneness.
A note on timing & doneness
Now, my Tuxedo Meringues baked in about 45 minutes. These take considerably longer, mainly because the cookies are much bigger. There’s also no chocolate in this one, which I think affects the bake time, too.
The goal is for them to be crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside.
(If they’re rubbery when you touch them, or if they stick or leave a gooey mess, put them back in the oven and bake 5 minutes more, then test again.)
When they’re done, transfer the meringues to a wire rack.
Let cool completely. Serve and enjoy!
Notes for next time
While I’m really happy with how these turned out, I think I’ll make a few changes next time. Namely, I’d like them to be a much more vivid purple. I also think I’ll paint little faces on them.