Food

Swiss Meringue Reindeer — A festive decoration to add to your cakes this holiday

The recipe for a simpler meringue, and the stencil for the sweetest confection!

The recipe for a simpler meringue, and the stencil for the sweetest confection!

(Photo credit: David Bagosy)

Some holiday desserts are over-the-top in design, shouting “I am festive fun!!” from across the party. We love those. But we also love a subtle seasonal nod. This reindeer meringue can be applied to the cake of your choosing, and is the elegant answer to a candy cane-dusted gingerbread Santa’s Workshop (again, nothing against ‘em...).

Confectioner extraordinaire Arlene Lott brings us a recipe for Swiss meringue, and the reindeer stencil need to make this decoration to perfection.

Swiss Meringue Reindeer

Meringue can be tricky sometimes; the sugar doesn't always dissolve properly, which can leave your meringues prone to wilting, weeping, and stickiness. Swiss meringue, however, is a terrific solution for ensuring that meringues keep their shape and height, whether you're using them for cookies or for topping a pie.

Note: This recipe makes about a dozen reindeer meringues, and you can fit about 3 reindeer per baking sheet. Feel free to put 2 baking sheets (6 reindeer meringues) in the oven at the same time if they will fit in your oven. I wouldn’t suggest making less meringue — first, it’s really inexpensive to make, and second,your stand mixer will work better with more in the bowl. You can spoon or pipe any extra onto the empty spaces on the cookie sheets, to make little cookies after you have your main shapes done.

Tools:

*A stand mixer will make this easier, but it can definitely be done with a hand mixer if you don't have one.

Reindeer stencil (if making as shown)
Foam board (⅜-inch thick)
Sharp art knife with a brand new blade
Cutting mat or wooden cutting board (to protects your table surface and keep the tip of the knife sharp)
Electric mixer, ideally a stand mixer*
Medium sized pot for making a double boiler
Baking sheets
Parchment paper or silicone baking sheet liner
Offset spatula for spreading the meringue into the stencil (a rubber spatula will work in a pinch)

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • Pinch salt

Preparation

First, trace your pattern onto the foam board and, working on top of a cutting mat, cut it out carefully using your art knife. If you've never worked with foam board before, many light passes with a sharp knife make the job smoother than trying to get through the material with one deep cut. (Bigger shapes work out better than fine details for this project — so keep that in mind if you're making your own patterns.)

Fill a medium saucepan with about 2-inches of water and bring it to a simmer.

Combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in a grease-free stainless steel or glass mixing bowl. Place mixing bowl over simmering water and whisk continuously until the egg whites and sugar are hot to the touch, frothy, and the sugar has fully dissolved. This will take about 5-7 minutes; you'll know it's ready when you pick up a bit of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger, rub it together and feel no sugar granules.

Remove the bowl from the heat and place it immediately into your stand mixer. Whip with the whisk attachment until the meringue is smooth, stiff, and glossy. This will take about 3 minutes, you'll know it’s ready when you lift up the attachment and the meringue holds a beautiful, stiff peak.

Preheat oven to 185F degrees (a cool oven prevents browning).

The trick to having success with the stencil is to make sure the paper doesn't lift off the baking sheet when you try to lift up your stencil. To help ensure this, start by spreading a thin layer of meringue onto the corners of the baking sheet and a few other random areas, then lay parchment paper down on your baking sheet. The meringue acts as ‘glue’ and will keep the paper securely in place.

Lay your stencil onto the baking sheet and fill it with meringue, using the offset spatula to make sure you get into all the crevices. Finish with a painterly texture, like rough plaster, for more charm. Lift off the stencil to reveal your meringue. If there are any areas that didn't transfer well, use a toothpick or a small knife tip to guide some meringue into place.

Continue making more meringues (see recipe note at top). Once you've filled your baking sheet with meringues, place it in the oven for 45 minutes (if you're making kisses or thicker piped meringues, these will need to bake for 75 minutes at this temperature for them to dry properly). Remove from oven and immediately run a thin metal spatula under the meringue(s) to release them from the parchment. The antlers will be delicate so work gingerly. Set aside to cool and set for 30 minutes.

Now your meringue is ready to serve as-is or apply to other treats as decoration.

Servings: Makes a dozen 4.5-inch reindeer as shown

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