I’m spending this holiday season with my family in Australia…where it feels nothing like Christmas. There are no pom pom hats or puffy coats to bundle up in, no blazing fires or hoping for snow. Just bathing suits and board shorts to stay cool in the 90-plus degree weather. Besides our Elf on the Shelf, Klauso, I haven’t hung a single decoration or given thought to decorating a tree. It’s kind of hard when you don’t want to get out of the pool for fear of spontaneously combusting in the heat.
To get in the spirit, I decided to whip up a batch of my favorite Christmas treats, peppermint snow drop meringues. These beauties are a show stopper! Not only do they look and taste festive, they’re also reminiscent an Australian favorite, the pavlova, a classic meringue dessert typically topped with berries. For my snowy meringue drops, I instead add crushed candy canes, which add a minty snap, and white chocolate chips that melt just enough to give the center a perfectly chewy texture – an improvement, I think, over dry and crumbly, as meringues can often be.
Dressed in my December best (a tank top, shorts, and flip flops), I queued the music, and began to bake as Bing Crosby’s deep, velvety voice echoed throughout the house. With few ingredients and a short prep time, the recipe for these dreamy drops bakes up quickly (no need to make the kitchen even hotter) and makes more than two dozen cookies, maximizing time during this busy season. Best of all, they look like a glossy decoration and are perfect for a hostess gift, cookie swap, or festive dessert.
Peppermint snowdrop meringue cookies
makes about 30 cookies
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely crushed peppermint candy canes
Preheat oven to 250° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer on medium-high using a whisk attachment until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and mix for another minute.
Next, pour in 1 tablespoon of the sugar and beat for 10 to 15 seconds, until the sugar dissolves. Continue to add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all sugar has been added. Scrape down the sides the bowl and beat for another 15 seconds. The meringue should form straight peaks when the whisk is lifted.
Remove bowl from mixer and use a rubber scraper to gently fold in chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of crushed candy cane. Once incorporated, use a teaspoon to drop rounded portions of the mixture onto the baking sheets, leaving a small peak at the top. (Don’t worry if the drops are slightly misshapen, though.) Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of candy canes.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake 15-17 minutes, then turn the baking sheets and continue to cook for another 15-17 minutes, or until the meringues feel dry and still look pale in color.
Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from baking sheets. The meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.