Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week 10: Peppermint Meringue Cups

Did you happen to see these on the last page of Martha Stewart's Living December issue? That magazine always has a fun holiday recipe like this...last year I made those white chocolate covered mint cookies. This year, these adorable peppermint cups. Let me be honest here: I'm not the least bit adept with a pastry bag so really wasn't certain I could manage these little melt-in-your-mouth gems. And when I referred back to the photo in the magazine, I noticed theirs were less red than mine. So if you're going to try them, don't paint your red line in the pastry bag as thickly as I did. Unless you like them with as much red as this.

All in all, these were wonderful. The peppermint taste is just right, the ganache perfect and they are the perfect holiday treat to pop in your mouth. Such fun!

Mini Peppermint-Meringue Cups with Ganache
From Martha Stewart Living Magazine, December 2010

vegetable oil cooking spray
3 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
red gel-paste food coloring
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
garnish: 1 candy cane, crushed

Preheat oven to 175° . (Mine registers no lower than 200°, but it worked fine.)Trace 16 circles onto each of 2 pieces of parchment paper, using a 1 and 3/4 inch round cookie cutter, spacing about 2 inches apart. Coat 2 baking pans with the cooking spray and top each with the parchment paper, traced side down.

Heat the egg whites and the sugar in a mixer bowl over simmering water until sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.
Transfer bowl to mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in the peppermint extract.

Using a small food-safe paint brush, paint three stripes of the red food coloring on the inside of a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch plain round tip.

Transfer the meringue to the pastry bag and pipe coils to fill the traced circle. The pipe in the sides to create a 3/4 to 1 inch cup.

Bake until meringue cups are crisp but not browned, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Put the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer and add to the chocolate. Allow to stand for a couple minutes, then stir to dissolve the chocolate. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a small slit in the top and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour to one hour and 15 minutes. (I got side-tracked and left mine too long, but microwaved it until it softened enough to put in the pastry bag.

Stir the ganache, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch open star tip. Pipe ganache into the meringue cups. Garnish with the crushed peppermint stick.
Makes 32.

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