Ahhh, sugar. When I think back to to my teenage years, it is amazing to me how I am still alive. I ate sugar – pure sugar – like bodybuilders eat protein. From the age of 14, I had a wedding cake business for several years, and the amount of royal icing that ended up in my mouth was staggering; then there were all the pastry, chocolate, and sugar classes at The National Bakery School. I loved sugar. The sweeter the better as far as I was concerned. It is a total wonder to me how I was not diabetic by the time I was 20. Or how I weighed only 110 lbs soaking wet. Our bodies are amazing in their ability to protect us from the horrors that we force upon them. If I ate now like I did back in my teens, I would be the size of a house, and at the very least pre-diabetic. No more royal icing and meringue by the spoonful for me. Or so I thought. I give you, Sugar-free Meringue Cookies.
2 weeks ago I started playing with sugar-free meringue. I blame the Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream I was creating. You can hardly have Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream without any meringue now can you.
To me, this is like the ultimate giving-the-finger to sugar. Oh my. Did I really just type that out loud? But really, it’s true. What is meringue except a bit of egg white holding a whole ton of sugar in suspension? Luckily for us, xylitol works much the same way as sugar does in this instance, although I found it to be a little finicky about the weather, and apt to color up a lot quicker; which is *really* weird since xylitol doesn’t caramelize like sugar. Anyway, it’s nothing we happy and healthy sugar-free cooks can’t work around.
I must admit, it still feels incredibly naughty eating sugar-free meringue cookies, even though it isn’t. The first batch I made were so staggeringly sweet I almost couldn’t eat them, so in later trials I reduced the amount of xylitol in the recipe. If your sweet tooth has been gradually disappearing as a result of a sugar-free lifestyle then you likely won’t be able to eat many of these at one go, and you’ll want to eat them with something else to take the edge off the sweetness.
I’d save these Sugar-free Meringue Cookies for high days and holidays, dinner parties, birthdays, and other special events. Those times when I have guests over and I’d like them to feel “normal” – not like they are being force-fed healthy. In fact, the next recipe winging it’s way to you is a perfect summer dessert for just such an occasion. How fabulous to know that you can serve up something so fun and seemingly naughty without compromising your health or making your guests feel deprived.
Let me just throw in one very important word if you are planning on making sugar-free meringue cookies: P A T I E N C E.
These sweet little babies take forever to dry out. I blame the xylitol. Anyway, you will get perfect meringue…eventually. Having followed the baking instructions in the recipe, if you remove them from the oven and they are still sticky (you’ll know because they will look shiny), just either leave them in the now-cold oven if you are not using it, or pull them out of the oven and leave them on the counter until they are dry. The final batch that I made (pictured) were not fully dry for 2 days. I am telling you this so that you can plan, and so that you are not disappointed or frustrated when they are not ready after following the recipe. They will be ready…eventually. What’s weird is that leaving them in a heated oven for longer than the recipe did not dry them out any faster. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is. Also, baking them at a higher temperature does not speed up the drying time, it just makes them color. Xylitol colors faster than meringues made with sugar, so don’t turn the heat up unless you want dingy-looking meringues. You have been warned. I would plan to make these at least 3 days before you need them. Once they are dry they will store for a week or more in an air-tight container, so I recommend making them in advance and storing, rather then risking them not being dry in time.
Out of this batch I used the little stars for making Eton Mess, and used the buttons in Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream (Get the recipe in my Ice Cream Book – it is SOOOOO good!), but you can pipe them in whatever shape you fancy, depending on what you want to use them for. You’ll want a pastry bag like these – the larger the better, and some nozzles or tips like these.
- 3 fresh egg whites (pasteurized whites will not whip)
- 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
- 5 oz / 140 g xylitol
- Pre-heat oven to 225F.
- Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and whisk using either a stand- or hand-mixer until the egg whites have formed stiff, dry peaks.
- Add the xylitol, a tablespoon at a time, whisking very well between each addition.
- Once you have added the last of the xylitol, continue whisking until the meringue is stiff and very glossy.
- Using a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice, fill the bag with meringue and pipe small shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet(s) in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the warm oven overnight.
- If the meringues are still sticky in the morning, leave them in the oven until they are dry, or if you need the oven, place them somewhere dry until they are ready. This could take up to 2 days. Patience is a virtue.
More general information on ingredients.
Thanks for all your SANE recipes. I’m personally a bit hesitant against all processed foods and I try to avoid sugar instead of replacing it with some other sweet ingredient. This does not mean I do not eat sugary stuff. Since I’m following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle I cut back to premium dark chocolate (I’m Swiss and live in a country of Chocolate :-) which I enjoy in very small portions every day.
I bake for my son and husband with Xylitol. They prefer the taste to Stevia which they do not like. Now my question: did you get feedback that some persons get stomach pain from Xylitol? I personally do not like the textur and taste of the baked good in my mouthh and get uneasy in my stomach immediately after I ate Xylitol.
carrieHi Romy – a few people do experience a little intestinal distress when they first start using xylitol. I recommend starting out slowly and gradually building up. I found that after continued use any stomach issues go away. It may be different for others though. Hope that helps!
FrancescaThanks so much for this advice! I have thrown away FOUR batches of forgotten meringue cookies now. I will,try again today, and let you know how long they took to dry out. Wish me luck!
carrieOh dear, Francesca – are they not drying out, or….?
Francesca CareyYes, not drying out! We live in Hawaii, so that might be part of the problem, but darn it, I REALLY want to make these cookies!!
The recipe is for 2 egg whites, 1/4t Cream of Tartar, 1/2 C Xyla, 1 tsp Vanilla and 1 C pecans. You fold the pecans and the vanilla into the stiff egg whites, and bake with the Overnight Method, start at 375º, shut off oven, leave overnight. (This is why they are called Forgotten Cookies!) However, they were wet and sticky in the morning.
I thought that I had not whipped them enough, so I did batch #2, really stiff, and tried the Overnight method again. No good.
#3 I tried baking them at 200º for two hours. They were still sticky, BUT I left them in the oven because we were having a dinner party. The next day when I was throwing them out I found that ONE of the cookies had baked, but I did not know why!! It was delicious!
Batch #4 I baked at 275º, and they got brown, but NOT dried out…
So – this is batch #5 in the oven right now – will then leave overnight, and see what happens over the next two days. I only hope the ants don’t find them!!
thanks so much for answering me so quickly.
By the way, the Book “Smarter Science of Slim” sounds amazing! When will it be published, and how can I get on a list for you to send it?
carrieFrancesca – it took me many attempts with different oven temperatures and timings, but the most successful method is the recipe I shared here. I so hope it works for you! The Smarter Science of Slim is now out of print but Jonathan’s new book, The Calorie Myth will be published on December 31st 2013. Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any updates!!
Eton Mess » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life[…] taste different as well. One of the ‘bits’ you’ll need for this is some SANE Meringue Cookies. The Dinner Party version is layered into pretty glass dishes and looks all sophisticated. The […]
JessicaWow thanks for the tips on xylitol meringue, now I know why after many attempts mine don’t dry in sunny Queensland Australia! Boo boo we love our meringues.
Jeannie HubingHi Carrie, I have just made a batch of your ‘sane’ sugar cookies and the dough is now chilling in the fridge. Already, the dough is delicious. Now, I want to make these meringue treats, I have an old ‘not sane’ recipe that calls for superfine sugar, I use Xylitol and do notice it seems chunkier, larger granules than regular sugar and certainly in comparison to fine sugar. Do you suggest grinding the xylitol to make it finer? or is it ok right out of the bag? Thank you for sharing your recipes. I see so many supposedly healthy recipes on the internet that are anything but healthy. Jeannie
carrieJeannie – no need to grind the xylitol. Totally agree on the “healthy” thing. It’s a minefield out there :-(
Julie SkinnerHas anybody tried drying out the meringue in a dehydrator?
carrieNo, Julie – but great idea in theory. Let me know if it works!
Noeline LevinsonHi, thank you for this excellent website. I too have been having trouble with my meringues. I love them, and want so badly to make them with xylitol successfully. I have a batch in the oven now, that have not dried out. Help!!! it is a hot and humid day and should have cooked them for longer. I have a fan oven and I find that to be hotter than other ovens and so always put the temp down by 20degrees. I have now put the fan on again, with no heat to try to dry them out. Is this a bad idea? I have a dinner party tonight and want them to work.
carrieHi Noeline, I would imagine that it is the humidity that is hampering your efforts here. Your idea to put the fan on is a great one, but I would put on a low heat also. They will dry out eventually. I usually plan to make them several days ahead so if they are being finnicky and taking a long time they are still dry when I need them.
christinaAny suggestions for how much extract or flavoring to add to change this recipe up?
carrieHi Christina – my philosophy is start small and add as necessary. Once it’s in there you can’t take it out! Also depends on what flavorings / extracts / essences you are using. Almond, for example, is super strong, whereas vanilla is much milder.
KristenI have a recipe for Mocha Meringues that I tried, and they tasted delicious but didn’t hold their shape at all. The recipe says to add the vanilla, cocoa powder, and coffee (1 tsp instant coffee dissolved into 1 tbsp water) after whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks (and it also didn’t specify whether to fold them in or whisk them in…I tried both and they both flopped). The recipe also called for regular sugar and I used half stevia and half xylitol. Any ideas of a better way to make this recipe work? Should I add the liquid ingredients before whisking the egg whites? Any suggestions would be really appreciated!! Thanks!
carrieHi Kristen – without seeing the recipe it is really hard for me to offer solid advise. When you say half Stevia – do you mean granular Stevia or liquid? I have never used Stevia so I cannot give advise on it’s use – I don’t use it because I think it tastes nasty :-) The additions need to be added after the “sugar” is incorporated into the egg whites. Fat makes egg whites collapse so you can’t add them before you have made the meringue. It is the air and sugar that prevent the egg whites from collapsing when the other things are added. Once the meringue is made turn your mixer to low speed and add the other ingredients. Aside from your Stevia question, I hope this helps!
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JenniferThis recipe is quite similar to an old secret family recipe. My sister uses a dehumidifier in her kitchen when making these. I think that might help a bit. : )
MissyHi there! This recipe sounds fabulous! Unfortunately, no retailers in my area carry xylitol. Do you know if another sugar substitute, such as splenda, would be acceptable in this recipe?
carrieHi Missy – since I haven’t trialed it with another sugar substitute I can’t say for sure it will work. However, I can say for certainty that I wouldn’t use Splenda (even if it works): https://carriebrown.com/archives/29686
I would look to Amazon for your xylitol supply. Hope that helps!
MissyOkay, thanks for the response!
NadineI have used Stevia with great results. I had to do a conversion to get the right amount since Stevia is naturally so sweet. I have a dog that will eat anything she can get her little paws on, and since xylitol is toxic to dogs, I don’t like to take chances.
carrieHi Nadine – which Stevia did you use?
JulieHi, I attempted to make a pavlova a couple of weeks ago, the first batch using Xylitol. As I quickly discovered (wish I’d seen this website first!), they did not harden at all in the oven, even though they were left for the better part of a day. I didn’t have a backup dessert plan, so redid a batch using sugar and served a wonderful pavlova with lemon cream and fresh berries for dessert. I threw the first batch in the fridge, still wrapped in the parchment they were cooked on, thinking I’d throw them in the compost the next day. When I went to take them out they had magically transformed into hard biscuit-like cookies. Way too sweet for my taste, but a wonderful texture. I’m about to make another batch, and will throw some chocolate powder in and about half the Xylitol. I noted that I cooked them much longer than recommended in an effort to get them to dry out. This time I’ll cook them for the regular length of time and once they are cool, put them in the fridge. It’ll be interesting to see if they are at all soft on the inside.
I am a coeliac and have diabetes. My doctor is just about to put
me on insulin because my GI is out of control. I have used Xylotol a couple of times in baking but need more ideas. Are your recipe free to download and if so how do I do it please
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Deb ErberI left mine in the oven overnight and on the counter for 2 days and they were still very sticky. Was very dry in the house, not humid, so that wasn’t the problem. Thought maybe it was the xylitol as I’ve made them several times in the past with Swerve with great results. ???????
NikiCan I drop from teaspoon instead of using a bag and tips? How can I use almond paste in your recipe?
ValerieCarrie, I’m new to your recipes and have really enjoyed receiving your emails. But as a person with type 1 diabetes I have to point out that you didn’t get diabetes from eating so much sugar when you were young because you did not have an autoimmune disease which destroyed your ability to produce insulin (type 1). Nor did you develop type 2 diabetes because you weren’t genetically prone to it. Eating sugar does not cause diabetes. Many people get diabetes who never ate sugar to excess. It’s one of those old misconceptions that gets joked about but isn’t funny to those of us living with it. ?