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Walnut Buttercream Meringue Cookies

Bar none, these meringue cookies used to be my favorite growing up. They’re nothing more than two meringue kisses with a buttercream filling and crumbled walnuts. This particular recipe is a homage to my great aunt, who first introduced me to these cookies. The only memory I have of her is when I used to visit her antique-clad home– she would set these cookies out for all the kids. Actually, she would always lay out an assortment of petit fours and they were always over the top. She passed a few years back, but her baking legacy lives on in my family.

Buttercream Meringue Cookies (makes 24 cookies) Ingredients: Vanilla Meringue - 3 large egg whites (approx. 90 grams) - 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (suitable substitute = 1 tsp of lemon juice) - 3/4 cup white sugar, processed in a food processor until super fine - 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract - food coloring (optional; I made plain cookies and I didn’t dye them. Usually used to identify the flavor of the filling. ie. pink=strawberry, green=pisachio, etc.) + favorite filling (these cookies are to be treated like french macarons; you can make the filling any flavor you like... I used a rich chocolate buttercream) + chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but you can use pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Chocolate Buttercream - 1 tbsp. milk - 1 tbsp cocoa powder - 3/4 cup butter, softened - 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 200ʹf. Using the whisk attachment of your electric mixer, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar or lemon juice and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar little by little and continue beating on medium-high speed. Add vanilla and beat until meringue holds stiff peaks.

2. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a plain round, or star tip. Pipe meringues onto a parchment paper (or Silpat) lined baking sheet.

My first few meringues were a little uneven (as above), but once you get the hang of it, you can make nice peaks. Bake meringues for about an hour and a half, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about halfway through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. 3. Prepare your filling while your meringues cool.

For the chocolate buttercream: using the whisk attachment on your mixer, whip softened butter and sugar until light and pale. Mix milk and cocoa until combined, and add to butter/sugar mixture. Whip until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl from time to time.

Assembly: Pipe a dollop of buttercream on the bottom of a meringue, and top it off with another meringue cookie. Roll the meringue cookies in finely chopped nut (they’ll stick to the buttercream). You can use any buttercream filling and any garnish. Go nuts.

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