If you’ve never spent Christmas in San Francisco or New York, you know one of our favorite Christmas traditions is SantaCon, where thousands of people dress up like Santa Claus, gather downtown and start the most epic pub crawl of the season.
Picture a sea of red and white outfits wherever you go. They’re everywhere! My favorite part has got to be the confused looks on kids’ faces. They range from amazement to total confusion.
For today’s project we are going to make meringues shaped like Santa’s big white beard and attach them to festive straws to be more functional. Kids will love this project.
The trick to baking flawless meringues is simple – first bake, then dehydrate. To start, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip together 3 egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar and mix until soft peaks form. With the mixer of high speed, gradually add 3/4 cups of sugar, one tbsp at a time, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved before each consecutive spoonful. Add vanilla extract and mix to incorporate. The egg whites will slowly turn glossy and bright white. Dip your index finger in the batter and rub it against your thumb. If it’s gritty, keep mixing. A smooth batter means that the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites and that’s what we want. Spoon your batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
To shape our meringues, first draw yourself a template.
Now line your baking sheet with parchment paper and place your template underneath to guide your piping.
Don’t overthink your piping. Just go in big swoops. Then, using a paring knife, score your meringue to give it some details and mimic the look of a beard.
Bake for 1½ hours. At that point you should be able to lift the cookies off the parchment paper easily. Turn off the oven and leave your cookies in for a few hours or even overnight to dry out.
I wanted to use these like masks so I grabbed some striped paper straws, spooned a dab of royal icing on the back of ice meringue and plopped a straw in the middle.
My friend Gibby had some fun with it: