Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cranberry Madness

About a day and a half after filling my freezer with fabulous goodness from Dinner Zen, the compressor died on my refrigerator. I noticed because none of my new food was frozen yet, and other things were actively defrosting. After a panicked day, and $350 in repairs later, I have a working fridge and freezer again, but some things were defrosted beyond re-freezing, including a bag of cranberries.

I quickly went to the Weight Watchers web site and looked up cranberry recipes. They had a 1-point recipe for cranberry meringues, and on closer inspection I learned that they were actually 4-for-1-point recipes, and who can really argue with that? It called for egg whites, cream of tartar, cranberry sauce, and dried cranberries. A quick lookup online showed that the cream of tartar could be replaced with some white vinegar in a meringue, and I was on my way.

First the cranberry sauce. Since this was for making cookies, I didn't do anything weird. Just plain cranberry sauce. If you don't know how, here it is:

Plain Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups cranberries

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries. Bring back to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and chill. You won't use it all for the cookies, so plan on some turkey or chicken the next day.

I had about 2 cups of cranberries left, so I decided to dry them. I don't have a dehydrator, so I did it in the oven. Just sprinkle cranberries with sugar, place on a baking sheet (best to use parchment paper, which I didn't have, and now I have a mess of a baking sheet!) and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

Once all that was done, I was ready to make my meringues! Here is my version of the recipe, which came out great and which did not change the points value at all:

Cranberry Meringue Kisses
3 egg whites
1/4 t white vinegar
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c cranberry sauce
about 80 dried cranberries (obviously this will work just as well with Craisins as with the homemade kind!)

Preheat oven to 200

Beat egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form. You really really really want to do this in a stand mixer. It will take a long time. Also, they transform faster if you start them at room temperature. Once stiff peaks form, add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue beating until the mix is glossy. Gently fold in cranberry sauce.

You will probably need 2 large cookie sheets. Either line them with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Drop Meringues in teaspoon sized "kisses" and top each one with a dried cranberry. You should have about 80-85 kisses. Bake them at 200 degrees for 2 hours, rotating the cookie sheets after an hour. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the pans, and store them in an airtight container. Try not to eat them all at once.

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