Meringue cookies are always beautiful bites of air, but they aren’t known for having much flavor aside from a smidge of vanilla. I upped the meringue ante when I created my strawberry rhubarb meringue cookies and I was pumped to try my hand at another flavorful meringue variety – SunButter clouds.
SunButter clouds have just enough SunButter (a nut-free peanut butter-like spread made with sunflower seeds) folded into the meringue to give them an earthy nut butter taste while still keeping them dry and crisp.
SunButter clouds are based on the peanut butter cloud recipe from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. Not only is the title of that book totally appealing, but the chapters are organized into the types of cookies mentioned in the title. For example, if you prefer chewy cookies, you know just where to turn! These meringue cookies, by the way, were in the melt-in-your-mouth section. (View on Amazon)
I loved that I could trust every recipe in this book. Alice Medrich is known for meticulous testing of her recipes and has won more best cookbook-of-the-year awards and best in the dessert and baking category than any other author.[/apcd]
I was surprised at how difficult it was to find unsalted hulled sunflower seeds to top the meringues. The first grocery store I visited didn’t carry anything hulled that didn’t also have salt, spices, and/or corn syrup. I was able to find some at Whole Foods. (View on Amazon)
- 3 large large egg whites room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup SunButter well stirred before measuring
- 3 tablespoons unsalted hulled sunflower seeds
- Preheat oven to 200 F.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl.
- Beat at medium-high speed with heavy-duty stand mixer (or at high speed with a handheld mixer) until egg whites are creamy white instead of translucent and hold a soft shape when the beaters are lifted.
- Continue to beat on medium-high speed, adding sugar a little at a time, taking 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in all, until whites are very stiff.
- Scatter small spoonfuls of SunButter over meringue.
- With large rubber spatula, fold SunButter into meringue; it's OK if it’s not perfectly blended.
- Drop rounded tablespoons of meringue 1 1/2 inches apart onto lined cookie sheets. (Or use a pastry bag fitted with 1/2 inch or larger plain or star tip to pipe any size and shape you like.)
- Sprinkle each meringue with a few sunflower seeds.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Rotate pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
- Remove a test meringue and let cool completely before taking a bite. (Meringues are never crisp when hot.) If meringue is completely dry and crisp, turn off heat and let remaining meringues cool completely in oven. If test meringue is soft or chewy or sticks to your teeth, bake for another 15 to 20 minutes before testing another meringue.
- To prevent the cookies from becoming moist and sticky, put them in an airtight container as soon as they are cool. They may be stored in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks.