My boys like to wrestle, master games on the iPad, and play baseball. Usually, most games end in a fight. I often retreat to my kitchen—I enjoy baking healthy treats and I also know that when they’re done play-fighting, they’ll come rushing to try whatever I’ve cooked up. They know to expect “treats” that lean heavily on the healthy side and my experiments in the kitchen are met with a strong dose of caution and occasional spitting out.
On the occasion they like what I’ve made, I feel giddy inside, like all my efforts have finally succeeded. It’s magical. But there is one recipe they both love, even if I’ve cut back on the sugar from the original recipe. My boys will even help me make them. The recipe is for an egg white cookie called a meringue. I’ve scoured the internet for recipes and it wasn’t until my mom tracked down a copy in an old cookbook, For the Love of Cooking and Baking by Lillian Kaplan, that my meringues started coming out perfectly every time.
Basically, I measure 12 Tbsp of liquid egg whites from the container (to equal 4 egg whites from an egg), add a tsp of vanilla, a couple grinds of salt and gradually start blending together in a dry bowl using a hand held electric mixer. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar a bit at a time. When the egg whites are stiff, I gently fold in chocolate chips (optional), spoon onto a parchment-lined baking pan and bake for 30 minutes in the oven at 225 degrees. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake for 2 hours. Turn the oven off after 2 hours and let the cookies dry in the oven overnight.
Last night, Josh even helped me make a batch while Ari had his guitar lesson. I love standing in the kitchen with my kids, teaching them about units of measurement, how to gently fold chocolate chips into the whipped cloud-like batter, how to spoon the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and of course, how to lick a bowl! This morning, we rushed down to the kitchen to try our cookies.
“Yup, we did a good job, Josh!” I said. The cookies were perfect—sweet, stiff puffs filled with chocolate.
I slipped the tray out of the oven and the boys dove in, delicately taking a cookie from the sheet to avoid cracking them on the way to their watering mouths.
“Mmmm!” they said. “Can we have another?”
At only 20 calories each, I didn’t see the harm.
I hope that when my boys are adults, they will think of me every time they eat a meringue. I hope they enjoy being in the kitchen and that they’ll find these moments with their children as magical as I do.