Back in our church-plant days one of the things that I got to do was coordinate refreshments for Sunday mornings. It was such a fun little gig for me to do, and I loved seeing how creatively women loved on others through the things they cooked or bought to bring to serve the church. But. Sometimes we would have some beautiful little meringues that had been purchased at the local Whole Foods and y’all, I did not love them. And seeing as how that was my very first meringue experience it’s actually shocking that I decided to try my hand at making my own.
I’ve chatted a few times about how much I love whipping cream or beating egg whites to stiff, pearly-white peaks; it’s one of the few things that really gives LOADS of satisfaction in the kitchen with fairly minimal effort. It’s almost like just knowing when to stop the mixer (or when to give your arm a break) is enough to really make you feel like super-chef. I know that’s the case with me anyway! So when I decided to make these beautiful little pumpkin pie spice meringues to take to the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference I was almost giddy with the work to be done.
I started off with the egg whites, whipping them in my stand mixer to glossy white perfection. Then I painstakingly put together my piping bag, cut the parchment to fit my pans, and piped a billion little meringue cookies onto two massive sheet pans. I baked them so carefully, rotating the pans halfway through, and postponed all other cooking for the day until they had dried more in the cold oven for several hours. Y’all, there was a lot of love that went into creating these!
Since I had to cook more in the oven that day, I took the pans out, wrapped them up, and placed them in a cool dry place. At the end of the day I placed them back in the cool oven, just because it really is such a great place to store meringues.
The next morning happened.
I woke up early and laughed and played with Wes and Nate until Nate had to go to work. I decided to bake off some bacon for a quiche I was making, so naturally I preheated the oven. To 400 degrees. And then walked away.
I couldn’t figure out why the house smelled like burning cinnamon, when suddenly I walked back into the kitchen and saw smoke billowing out of the oven.
Needless to say those sweet little meringues, the ones that I fell in love with the moment they melted on my tongue, the ones that tasted like all things Fall – they were black. And while I was really thankful I was able to snag these photos from the day before, I was pretty much heartbroken.
Honestly, the bad day didn’t really stop there – I burned the meringues, made messes of the quiches I was making, cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher only to find that the dishwasher was broken, had a heck of a time fixing my presentation for the conference, and all with a crying, teething toddler in tow. It was hard.
And then I just shut this whole operation down, sat on the couch with Weston and read a storyboard book and wouldn’t you just know that within a few moments he was asleep in my lap, breathing ever so softly and gripping my finger with his sweet little hands. I realized in that moment that all of my crap from earlier in the morning, even the death of these incredible meringues, was completely selfish and I lost those 5 hours of time to love on my little boy when all he needed was his mom to snuggle him.
I sat there with my little man, still sleeping so sweetly on my lap, and I sniffed his head like I did when he was a tiny baby. I didn’t wish away the crying or worry about the food. I didn’t give a thought to my conference talk or the rebellious Power Point slide that was causing all the chaos. I sat there, for the first time in a while, completely in the moment. Memorizing the weight of toddler Weston on my lap and the smell of coconut shampoo + a smear of peach yogurt in his hair. The reality that these moments are few and far between weighs heavily on my heart, and I wish I could get those 5 hours of total frustration back to love my little boy a little better.
Pumpkin spice meringues (little drops of heaven, if you will) and the madly racing clock of life don’t really have a lot in common other than the fact that both led me to this sweet and beautiful moment with my son. So while I don’t recommend putting life on hold to make these amazing little spicy cookies, I can’t recommend enough taking the time to make them with the ones you love, creating happy and beautiful memories in both the making and eating stages 😉
- 8 egg whites (I only ever use Great Day Farms eggs these days; I fully support the company and their heart for God!)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- In a large bowl beat the egg whites on medium speed until they start to get foamy on top.
- Add the cream of tartar and increase speed to medium high.
- When the egg whites reach a soft peak consistency, slowly stream in the sugar.
- Increase speed to high and beat until the egg whites reach a stiff peak consistency.
- Add the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and beat until just combined.
- Scoop or pipe the meringues onto the prepared baking sheets; each meringue will end up being about 1 tablespoon of the batter apiece.
- Bake at 200 for 90 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.
- After 90 minutes, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to stay in for another 6-8 hours to finish drying.