These pumpkin spice meringues are a light and airy cookie, with a crisp exterior and a slightly chewy center. They’re easy, and perfectly spiced for a delightful fall flavor! And meringue cookies are just about one of the prettiest little desserts I’ve ever seen.
Meringues have a long history in the pastry world and date back as early as 1604. Marie Antoinette, a modern symbol of indulgence, adored meringues. One of the fun thing about meringues is they can be so versatile! You can pipe them into different shapes or even shape them into little bowls and fill them with curds, creams, or fruit. You can color them, and even add different flavored extracts to them. If you’re watching your waistline try swapping the sugar for a sweetener that measures like sugar—Splenda, swerve, or coconut sugar.
What are meringues? And are meringue and merengue the same thing?
Meringues or meringue simply whipped egg whites and sugar and are then cooked. How you cook your egg whites is the difference between French, Italian, and Swiss meringue. You may occasionally see people spell it “merengue” and wonder if that is the same thing. This is a common misspelling. Merengue is actually a popular music in the Caribbean. Merenuge is also sometimes used as verb, meaning to dance to merengue music.
French meringue vs. Italian and Swiss Meringue
Like we mentioned above, what differentiates French, Italian, and Swiss meringues is really how the egg is cooked in the meringue.
French Meringue. Our pumpkin spice meringues use the French meringue method. French meringue is made by whipping egg whites and sugar band then baking them in the oven.
Italian Meringue. Italian Meringue is made by heating sugar and water together until it reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit. Then while your egg whites are whipping, drizzle your hot sugar syrup in and keep whipping until you have stiff peaks.
Swiss Meringue. Swiss meringue is made by mixing the egg whites and sugar together and gently cooking them in a double boiler. After the egg whites and sugar cooked together you whip them up. This is the method I use for my favorite Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe.
How we imitate that pumpkin spice flavor
Meringues are always made of up 2 basic ingredients—egg whites and sugar. To stabilize these little meringue cookies we add in cream of tartar and for flavor we add salt, pumpkin pie maple extract, and vanilla extract. Because meringues are so simple and can be a little finicky we cannot add actual pumpkin puree into this recipe. That means to imitate that pumpkin flavor we all know and love we had to get a little creative.
The vanilla and maple extract combined with the pumpkin pie spice combo are the best for imitating pumpkin in these pumpkin spice meringues.
How to make homemade pumpkin pie spice
If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, I recommend making a larger batch of this to have on hand. Goodness knows you’ll need it with all the delicious pumpkin treats there are to make this fall!
This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, so this is how to make a small batch of pumpkin spice—just enough for this recipe.
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/16 teaspoon all spice
How to make a large batch of homemade pumpkin pie spice:
It might seem like a pain to try and measure out 1/16 of a teaspoon, and I totally agree. So get a little jar, and make a bigger batch to keep in your spice cabinet:
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) ground cloves
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) all spice
Why won’t my egg whites whip?
Making meringues are fairly easy, the part you may find most challenging is getting your egg whites to whip enough. So we’ve got a few tips for you:
- To start you have to separate your egg whites and yolks. Its super important that you don’t have even the slightest trace of yolk in your egg whites or they won’t whip properly.
- Egg whites also whip best at room temperature.
- Use either a glass or metal bowl. Plastic has oil in them so a plastic bowl will inhibit your egg whites from whipping properly.
How do I know when my egg whites have reached “stiff Peaks”?
If you’re new to whipping egg whites it can be hard at first to determine when you’ve reached that “stiff peak” stage. So when you’re testing for stiff peaks, use your beaters to pull up on the whipped egg whites. The egg whites should stand tall and the egg whites will not fold back themselves.
The Bowl Test
You can also use the bowl test to see if your egg whites are stiff enough. The bowl test is pretty simple, the idea is that you can flip the bowl with your batter over top of your head and the batter will stay put.
How to store your pumpkin spice meringues:
To keep your pumpkin spice meringues fresh, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
How to re-crisp your pumpkin spice meringues:
Meringue cookies should be nice and crispy with a slightly chewy center. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. The meringues may get a little soft and chewy if there is any moisture in the air. If they do get too chewy you can place them back in the oven at 225 for 20 minutes.
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Pumpkin Spice Meringues
- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon maple extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Food Coloring
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (parchment paper not wax paper!) Whip egg whites until the eggs start foamy. While whipping egg whites, add sugar ¼ cup at a time, allowing the sugar to dissolve completely before adding the next ¼ cup. Once sugar has been added add in cream of tartar.
- Keep whipping until egg whites are glossy and can hold their shape. You can test if they are stiff enough by using the back of the spoon to swoop the egg whites into a peak shape; if it slumps at all it’s not stiff enough.
- Once the egg whites are stiff enough add in your maple and vanilla extracts, salt, and pumpkin spice. Add in food coloring, I added in equal amounts of yellow and red food coloring until I reached the desired colored of orange.
- Load meringue mixture into a frosting bag with a star tip. Pipe swirls and little kiss shapes onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can pipe the meringues very close together—they won’t spread. Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on size of meringues piped. Turn oven off and let meringues cool in oven for 1-2 hours.
- The meringues should be nice and crispy with a slightly chewy center. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. The meringues may get a little soft and chewy if there is any moisture in the air. If they do get too chewy you can place them back in the oven at 225 degrees for 20 minutes.
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Originally published October 10, 2018