Whenever possible, I try to choose ingredients that are from locally sourced farms and producers whenever possible. When I lived in Colorado, I knew where my eggs where coming from – literally a 10 minute drive from my home – even though I bought eggs from a big name brand. I knew that the farm was reputable and that their chickens were treated humanly even though they were kept caged. I also bought from another producer whose farm I toured. I personally witnessed how they treated their animals and was satisfied that their chickens were treated humanly. (You can read about my experience touring their farm.)
Now that I live in Georgia, most of the eggs available at my local grocery store come from conventional egg producers that I don’t personally have experience with, so I have to make other choices like cage-free eggs knowing that hens on cage-free farms can walk around, stretch their wings, and do the things that chickens naturally do.
Many families feel the same way, which is why more people are choosing to buy cage-free eggs. They’re also supporting Choose Cage-Free, an initiative by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to educate consumers about the living conditions of hens in cages and encouraging people to commit to buying cage-free eggs. In addition, they’re working with farmers and businesses to adopt cage-free practices.
Egg based dessert recipe – Meyer Lemon Meringues
In support of Choose Cage-Free, I’ve been asked to make an egg based recipe. I couldn’t think of anything more egg-y than meringues – little bites of egg white goodness! I flavored my meringues with grated Meyer lemon rind, which was delicious, but you can make these with just vanilla extract if you wish.
Here’s a few things you need to know to make meringues successfully:
First, make sure your bowl and beater are super clean. If there’s any grease, your egg whites will not stiffen.
Second, your eggs should be at room temperature – around 70 degrees.
Third, if it’s very humid, make meringues another day. Seriously, they won’t bake up if it’s humid out.
Fourth, you have to use real sugar. (Not powdered sugar!) I used organic cane sugar, which turned out great, but regular granulated table sugar will work just fine. However, sugar substitutes like Splenda, stevia, and Swerve Sweetener have all failed on me much to my chagrin.
Fifth, make the meringues in the evening. You’ll need to bake them for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and let them sit for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best so they get really crunchy.
Piping the meringues
Finally, I striped the piping bag with (a little too much) Wilton yellow paste food coloring. Totally optional, but it added a fun touch. I love being able to use my piping supplies. I used to take Wilton classes in Colorado and did quite a bit of cake decorating back when the kids were little. Just search “golf cakes” here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet and you’ll find some of that old content from back in the day before I was a healthy food blogger!
You can learn how to stripe a piping bag with food coloring on the Wilton website. There are plenty of YouTube videos on piping meringue to inspire you, too. However, if you want to learn about piping, I advise you to sign up for Wilton classes at Michaels. They’re so much fun and you can take a class with a friend or your kids!
Meyer Lemon Meringues
- No stick cooking spray
- 4 cage-free egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon gluten free pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest
- Paste food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with no stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Prepare a large piping bag with large star tip.
- Beat egg whites on medium speed in a freestanding mixer using the wire whisk attachment until frothy. While still beating, add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
- Increase speed to medium high. Add sugar by the tablespoonful. Beat until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks are formed. (You’ll know you’re getting close when the egg whites start to get glossy.)
- Beat in extract and grated lemon zest until well incorporated.
- Fill piping bag halfway with meringue. Pipe about 1 teaspoon of meringue on to baking sheet. Make sure that meringues are 1 inch apart.
- Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off. Let meringues sit for at least 4 hours. Overnight is ideal.
- Gently remove meringues from baking sheet by peeling aluminum foil from meringue, if necessary.
- Serving size: 1 to 2 meringues
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.