It’s finally Christmas season and you know what that means! It’s time for Christmas cookies! These maple vanilla bean meringue cookies are the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie repertoire. These delicious cookies are also paleo because I use maple syrup as the sweetener instead of refined cane sugar. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice on taste though. No, no, no. These meringue cookies actually have more flavor than normal meringues because of the maple syrup. Add in freshly scraped vanilla beans and you’ve got little fluffy clouds of taste explosion that literally melt in your mouth. OMG, y’all.
I’ve been making meringue cookies with my mom at Christmas since before I can remember, so they are so special to me. We used to call them night night cookies because we would make them after dinner, then leave them to dry in the oven overnight and check on them in the morning! I have so many great memories of making these cookies. 😊🎄
Now, fast forward quite a few years and let’s make those meringues paleo. Truth: my first attempt at paleo meringue cookies went all sorts of wrong. I decided to use the French meringue method in which you beat the egg whites first and then slowly add the sugar (or in this case maple syrup) and whip til you get a nice fluffy meringue. Well, it fluffed up and everything looked fine until they went into the oven and ended up weeping everywhere. Flat, sad meringue cookies in puddles of gooey maple syrup. Fail.
Luckily, my second and final attempt was a winner! I tried the Swiss meringue method. And, hallelujah, it worked! To make a Swiss meringue, you heat the egg whites and sugar (maple syrup here) over a double boiler then beat it in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. These Swiss meringue cookies baked up perfectly into little swirly puffy clouds that were full of flavor, airy, and both soft and crisp. Perfection. They are just heavenly.
If you’ve never made meringue before here are some important tips:
- Make sure your bowls, utensils, hands, and baking sheet are all free of any oils. Also, make sure that none of the egg yolk gets into the egg whites. Any fat in the process will ruin the cookies.
- Be patient. Two hours in the oven plus 1 hour of cooling. Then you can take them out. I mean it.
- Meringues like to soak up moisture, so as soon as they are cool and done drying in the oven, put them in an air-tight container for storage. Otherwise you will have a chewy, sticky mess.
- Meringues are very sensitive to humidity, so they may weep a bit if you make them in a humid climate or on a rainy day. Save these for a drier day.
- Make sure to heat the egg white mixture to 140ºF/60ºC. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer here. If you don’t get it hot enough, you may have issues with the cookies weeping in the oven.
- When you are beating the mixture in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer, make sure you beat it long enough. Again, if you don’t you may have issues with weeping cookies. Don’t make them cry! They didn’t do anything to deserve it! You want to beat the meringue until it is super fluffy, shiny, holds stiff peaks, and has cooled completely. Somewhere between 8 and 11 minutes should be just right.
- These little cookies are completely addictive, so you may want to make a double batch 😉
- 2 egg whites (66g), room temperature
- ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- Preheat oven to 200ºF (90ºC). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Create a double boiler by bringing about an inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
- In a medium-sized glass or metal mixing bowl that fits over the saucepan without touching the water, whisk together all ingredients.
- Place the bowl on top of the saucepan. While continuously whisking, bring the egg white mixture to 140ºF (60ºC). If you do not have a candy thermometer, heat the mixture for about 3-5 minutes until it is very warm (use of a candy thermometer is highly recommended though - see note above).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the egg white mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Begin on a low speed and then gradually increase to high. Beat the mixture for about 8 minutes or until the meringue is cool, looks shiny and pearlescent white, and forms stiff peaks.
- Use a very clean silicon spatula or soup spoon to spoon the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with the piping tip of your choice. I use a wide star tip.
- Pipe the meringue into little cookies (about the diameter of a golf ball or smaller) on the parchment paper. They don't really spread much when baking so you don't need too much room between the cookies. Alternately, you can just spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper in little dollops for a freeform, rustic look.
- Bake on the center rack for 2 hours, flipping the baking sheet at the halfway point.
- At the end of the 2 hours, turn off the oven, leave the door closed, and allow the cookies to cool in the oven for at least 1 hour. You can tell when they are done because they will easily come off the parchment paper. If they are stuck at all, leave them in the oven a bit longer.
- After the cookies come to room temperature, store them in an air-tight container.
Did you like the recipe? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section!