Since SB and I moved to Chicago, we have made some new friends and reconnected with old ones. One of these old friends that SB reconnected with is his childhood friend Tim, who also is a fantastically talented actor at Second City - an Improv Theater, right here in Chicago. If you ever get a chance you should really check out the shows there. SB and I went to a show and I can honestly say that I don't remember ever laughing as hard as I did at the show. If crying and getting stomach cramps from laughter is your thing, then you must get tickets immediately - now - do it!
Anyhow, it just so happens that his friend, Amber Spiegel, is a pastry chef. I hesitate saying this, because really what I want to call her is a pastry artist. Truly, that is what she is. What she is able to do with cookies and cakes are no less than masterpieces. When I saw her work for the first time I was in awe. Clearly, I am not the only one as she has caught the attention of InStyle magazine as well. You can check her out in the April 2011 issue, page 110 (Tina Fey is on the cover - how interesting, considering Tina Fey got her start at Second City). She has recently moved to upstate New York were she is planning on opening a bakery with her very own heavenly and awe inspiring creations. For the time being she is my fellow blogger and friend (you can check her out here) and you can also order your very own custom made set of cookies on etsy. These are a fantastic treat. Perfect for baby showers, bridal showers, cocktail parties, dinner parties, engagement parties, birthdays, anniversary parties or giveaways at weddings. Trust me this is a treat that your guests will NOT forget! Here is a tiny glimpse of what she does. But make sure you check out her blog for more!
These are all true works of art. She will work with you to create exactly what you need. However, not everyone needs to be a pastry artist to create something deliciously wonderful. Amber has shared with me this fantastic pistachio meringue cookie recipe. They are a heavenly cookies that are sweet and savory. They are super light, which is perfect for summer and your girlish figure :). Without further ado, here is the fabulous Amber!
Meringue cookies are one of my favorite treats to whip up. The ingredients are simple and you can flavor them with almost anything imaginable. Plus, these bite size confections are light and crispy, making them perfect for the approaching summer season.
Salted pistachios help to create the perfect blend of sweet and savory in these melt-in-your-mouth meringues.
Pistachio Meringue Cookies (4 dozen)
½ c egg whites (3 large eggs)
1 c sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
½ c salted shelled pistachios
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vegetable oil
Mini food processor (4 cup capacity or smaller)
Stand mixer with whip attachment
Large round piping tip (Wilton 2A or Ateco 804 work well)
Small offset spatula
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place pistachios in the food processor and pulse until they are about ¼ their original size.
Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp vegetable oil. Continue to grind until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
Separate egg whites from yolks by hand. Save the yolks to use them on another day (a perfect excuse to make crème brulee!).
Fill the medium saucepan about ½ way with water. Bring to a simmer. Place egg whites and 1 cup of sugar in your mixing bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water.
Whisk the mixture constantly until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Check under the bowl periodically to make sure your water is simmering and not boiling so that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
Once the mixture has reached the desired temperature, move the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Add 1/8 tsp cream of tartar. Beat the mixture on medium-low speed for about 7-10 minutes. Increase the mixer to full speed for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the pistachios using a rubber spatula. Save about 1 tablespoon of the pistachio mixture to garnish the tops of the meringues.
Fit a piping bag with a round tip and fill the bag with meringue. Pipe 2” round meringues about 1” apart on parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle the meringues with the leftover pistachio mixture.
Place meringues in the oven and bake for 3 hours. Turn the oven off and let meringues sit overnight to dry.
Gently remove meringues from parchment using a small offset spatula.