Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Properly Managed Kisses

We at A Book of Cookrye have fielded a few accusations that we never make anything from any recipe source others have heard of. Today, it is our special pleasure to announce we're going to pull from one of the best-selling cookbooks of the century!
...The 19th century, that is. We are pleased to present, Kisses!

1 c sugar
4 egg whites
1 tsp lemon extract

Heat oven to 375°.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add lemon extract. Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Scatter each spoonful over the top rather than just dumping it in so it doesn't clump together when you beat it. Beat each addition in thoroughly, so that there are no sugar grains (toward the end, they may be slightly perceptible) before adding the next.
Mound onto paper, using about a spoonful or so per cookie, and sculpt into shape with the back of the spoon. It's actually easier to lift it out of the bowl on the back of the spoon than to lift it on the front, set it on the paper, then shape it with the back. Or you can put it in a baggie and squirt it on, which would probably be a lot easier.
Bake until a nice sandy brown. Rather than peeling the paper off, you may find it easier to stick a fork or spatula under them.

As you can see, we didn't vary this from the recipe aside from cutting it in half:
Miss Leslie, Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, 1837

I must say I agree with half of the last sentence. Kisses do indeed require so much practice and dexterity to manage properly. However, I can't personally attest to the last part. Is a candy shop really the best place to procure proper kisses? If I test this, I will be sure to pass on the results.

I forget what I was making, but at some point when I was still learning to cook I was making a recipe that started off with cracking fourteen egg whites. I cracked them all, then saw they were in fact kind of yellowish. Thinking I'd messed up and gotten yolk in there and just never seen it, I dumped about twenty minutes of tedium down the disposal. I've since learned that yes, egg whites do have their own yellowish tinge.


Anyway, this recipe is really easy, if not so white you could get the Wite-Out people to sponsor it. (Note: I don't mean white as in the race; I mean... well, look at the (lack of) color in this!) Anyone who can hold an electric mixer can do it. However, let us contemplate the person making this when Miss Leslie published her book, using only a whisk because even the hand-cranked egg beater wasn't yet invented. Eesh.
It looks like either a magical ice kingdom or someone's lair.

At the end, we had an astonishingly thick mixture of egg whites and sugar. I had no idea they could get this stiff. If it wasn't so sticky, one might have used it for modeling clay.
Ever been impaled by egg whites?

At this point, I would like to share a quick Book of Cookrye lesson. You see, we had no parchment paper. Having decided that the original recipe says to use "white paper" anyway, we used the backs some old printouts.
It looks like a lot of soft-serve cones.

While it definitely worked, did you know that toner is heat transferable?
There's an art project waiting to happen here.

Remove the printout from the cookie sheet required drastic measures. Since heat glued it on, heat had to take it off.
Nothing like scouring a boiling pan with a scrubber on a spoon.

However, the cookies were really tasty and nearly weightless in your hand. They melted in your mouth. I really liked how the outside was crunchy but the inside was soft like the meringue on top of a pie. It wasn't raw or runny, it just wasn't hardened.
So good!

However, I don't know what Miss Leslie was talking about when she got to pressing them together when they came out of the oven and leaving them to cool. They cooled almost the instant they came off of the pan. Also, don't try to peel the paper off. This will happen.
It's a lot easier to jam a fork under them and force them off, although that's a little dicey too.
And granted, these got some seriously big air pockets in baking:

But that doesn't matter because these were just that good. We got about a dozen and a half kisses out of this, but they disappeared in less than 10 minutes. If you want them thoroughly crunchy, you could bake them longer. If you like them really soft in the middle, you can take them out just as they get barely browned.
These disappear really quickly.

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