If you’re looking for a healthier cookie this holiday season, these peppermint meringues have a leg up since the main ingredient has zero calories: air! They’re made simply of egg whites and sugar whipped with air until they become a fluffy cloud of goodness. And at about 15 calories a pop, they’re one of the lightest cookie recipes we’ve made.
Each holiday season, Alex and I develop a few sweets that are on the lighter side but are just as delicious as their heavier counterparts. (We also talk about a few ideas on our latest podcast to launch December 7, and even call a friend to get her favorite ideas.) It can be difficult to strike a balance with sugar in the holiday season, so our coping mechanisms are simple: focus on homemade recipes with real ingredients, and eat in moderation when possible. (Here’s a post on 9 tips for eating in moderation I wrote a while back.)
While these meringues seem light and carefree, they do take a bit of concentration to pull off. It took us a failed batch to realize the importance painting neat lines into the bottom of a pastry bag (paint them up too far and half of the batch is white; paint them too messy and the red isn’t dark enough). If you’re up for the challenge, make sure you have a paintbrush, pastry bag, and some red gel food coloring. With a steady hand, they’re a fun holiday challenge.
What are your favorite healthy-ish holiday treats? We’d love to hear in the comments! A few of our “lighter” takes are below.
*Favorite* Healthier Holiday Cookie Ideas
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- 3 large egg whites
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Red gel food coloring
- Pastry bag and small art paintbrush
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Fill a saucepan with water and heat to a low simmer, but not boiling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Lower the bowl into the simmering water and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Place the bowl under the mixer, then whisk on high for 8 to 10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Once there are stiff peaks, turn off the mixer and add peppermint extract. Whisk on low for about 30 seconds to fully incorporate.
- Meanwhile, fit a large circle tip on a plastic pastry bag and neatly fold down the top 6 inches of the bag to form a sturdy cone. For stability, place the bag tip-down in a pitcher. Squeeze some red gel food coloring on a plate and carefully paint a ½ inch wide stripe from the tip to where the bag is folded. Repeat with 3 more lines, evenly spaced. Be careful not to smudge the lines.
- After the stripes are painted, carefully add spoonfuls of meringue into the center of the pastry bag. Pipe small swirly cones, about 1½ inches wide onto two parchment lined baking sheets. Each one will be a little unique, so enjoy the process!
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, let out a bit of the warm air, then leave in the oven for another 90 minutes for the insides to dry. Store in a covered container for several days.