Meringues are marshmallows' elusive, exotic, and mysterious aunt who lives in Paris, wears Chanel to the grocery store, and has a passport brimming with stamps from countries without vowels in their names. Many of us don't have a clue what they are, and of those who do know, I'd bet half wouldn't know how to make them. Nearly everyone has a misconception about how easy they are to make; besides the bake time, meringues whip together in under ten minutes and with less than a handful of ingredients. PB&J is a fun way to spin complexity (read: flavors, not difficulty) into a beautifully straightforward dessert. Notes of salty peanut butter, sweet fruit, and warm vanilla. Textures of crispy meringue, chewy bits of fruit, crunchy nuts, and melt-in-your-mouth centers.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
Hanging out on the sidelines
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar 2 tablespoons of dehydrated peanut butter powder (available in grocery stores near the PB!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (85g) jelly, your fav flavor
1/4 cup (35g) crushed honey-roasted peanuts, or plain if you have them
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, microwave the jelly for about 15 seconds to loosen it up.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt to soft peaks. Soft peaks mean that when you dip your finger into the egg whites, the tip of the egg white peak droops over when you pull your finger out.
Once you have soft peaks, slowly add the sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks. Stiff peaks mean that the little egg-white peak that once drooped over now stands tall when you dip your finger.
Once you have stiff peaks, sift half of the dehydrated peanut butter over the egg whites and gently fold them in. Sift the second half of the peanut butter powder, and fold in again. Be careful not to stir too hard or too long- we don't want to deflate all the air we just beat in!
If you have a large ziplock bag, you can make a makeshift piping bag by filling it with the meringue, snipping off one of the bottom corners, and voila. You can also use two large spoons to make circles of meringue on your prepared baking sheet. Either works great; just be sure to leave about two inches between the meringues.
Drizzle the loosened jelly on top and around the meringues. You can use the tip of a small knife or a fork to swirl the jelly into the meringue and make a nice design. Sprinkle the tops of the meringues with crushed peanuts.
Bake the meringues for four hours. Yes, four hours. I know, I know- four hours, but it's worth it and so easy. After four hours, turn off your oven and let them hang out until cool or even overnight.
Once cooled, store the meringues in an air-tight container for several weeks. Remember that the enemy of meringue is moisture, so seal 'em up!