I hate recipes that require separating eggs. Having had my own chickens for years, I feel like every egg is a precious labour of love for my hens and I don’t squander any of them. So using a recipe that requires only whites means that I have to find a use for the leftover yolks. Using a recipe that requires yolks means that I have to do something with the whites.
That was the situation this morning when I used 4 yolks to make Hollandaise sauce for the first time. I had thought to use the leftover whites in a batch of my Keto Crack-ola (recipe here) but I didn’t have enough of the right ingredients for that. So, I struck out into unknown territory and decided to make meringue cookies.
Meringue cookies are a bit of a misnomer. They have no flour and no added fat – the entire structure is based on the protein strands of beaten egg whites, stabilized by a small amount of an acid, either cream of tartar, lemon juice or a vinegar. Traditionally, sugar is beaten into the meringue and then the super light and puffy result is piped out in cute shapes and “cooked” in a barely warm oven, long and slow. It’s more of a drying out process that results in varying amounts of crispiness on the outside and possibly soft chewiness on the inside, depending on how thoroughly they are dried out and how crispy the finished product is to be.
The awesomely cool thing about meringues is that there’s almost nothing in them! Once you sub out the sugar with a sweetener, the only calories come from the protein in the egg whites, and that’s not much. So each cookie is literally one or two calories. You get the cookie experience and the flavour almost for free!
Regular meringue recipes can use granulated sugar and assume that it will dissolve in the beating. But keto sweeteners like erythritol are less easily dissolved and so a powdered sweetener is recommended. I didn’t have one to hand, so I used my coffee grinder to quickly turn granular Krisda sweetener into a very fine powder. The only powdered sweetener that I can find locally is Swerve and me and Swerve don’t get along. Must be the “oligosaccharides” in the Swerve, as I’m fine with erythritol in other products. Bottom line is that not all sweeteners are well tolerated by all people. Experiment to find what works for your own digestion.
To me, these are more like candy than cookies. The sweet/tart/coolness of the lemon and erythritol make for a candy-like experience. They sort of dissolve on your tongue in a burst of flavour.
Keto Lemon Meringue Cookies
- 4 each egg whites room temperature
- 1/4-1/3 cup measure-for-measure sweetener of choice Powdered or ground in coffee grinder
- 1 tsp fresh or bottled lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 200F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Make very sure that your egg whites have no hint of yolk. Add them to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, start on medium and beat until they go opaque and start to get frothy, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. This takes several minutes. Once stiff and glossy, add sweetener about 1 tbsp at a time while beating. Incorporate well. At the end, gently fold in the lemon zest, careful to not break the structure of the beaten egg whites down too much. For pretty meringues, carefully transfer the egg whites to a piping bag and pipe cookies onto the prepared pans. They can also be made as drop cookies using a spoon. About 1 heaping teaspoon per cookie. Bake for 1 hour in the oven, then turn the oven off and leave them to cool and dry out in the oven for another hour. They should be room temp and crispy all the way through when you take them out. Carefully loosen from parchment paper using a thin lifter. The meringues don't stick, but the lemon zest can stick to the parchment paper, causing the cookie to rip apart. Make tea and enjoy!