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Okay, okay, okay, so I know I’m always talking about eating healthy, but you’ve got to have a sweet every once in a while, right?!   I’m going to incorporate some sweet/dessert recipes as well – and yes, some less healthy than others!!!   So, everything sweet in moderation, but here’s a treat for you all to enjoy!

A few years ago, I was introduced to meringue cookies (thank you Trader Joe’s!).  They were really good and whenever I find something I like, I want to try to make it myself.  From scratch is always better than store-bought, right?!

So, I did some experimenting and came up with this recipe for orange meringues.  What’s great about it is you can change out the extract and make just about any flavor you want.  Replace the orange extract with vanilla extract to make vanilla meringues; lemon extract to make lemon meringues; coconut extract to make coconut meringues; etc.

I also look to learn new techniques and I came across this trick to give them a little color.  Place a piping tip in the bottom of a piping bag and using a thin paint brush dipped in food coloring, paint streaks throughout the piping bag before you fill it with the meringue mixture.  I use AmeriColor color gels.  I love the intensity and “trueness” of each of the colors and I really like the fact that it is a gel rather than regular food coloring which has a lot more water in it.  I also prefer it over Wilton food colorings which don’t tend to be very true to the color they say it is and once you remove the seal, I feel they tend to dry out fairly quickly.

Orange Meringue Cookies

1/4 tsp. orange extract
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar

1)  Add egg whites, extract, and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk.
2)  Whip egg whites to soft peaks.
3)  Slowly add sugar and whip to stiff peaks.
4)  While mixture is whipping and if desired, streak a piping bag with selected color.
5)  Spoon meringue mixture into piping bag.
6)  Pipe meringue mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets.
7)  Bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours.  Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven for an additional hour.
8)  Store in an air-tight container.

These are the lightest colored/streaked meringue cookies.

Above and below are some more intensely colored/streaked cookies.  The more color you use in the piping bag, the more intense the color will be piped out.