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Portuguese Meringues (Suspiros)

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How can I describe a Suspiro?  Well… If you have never had a Suspiro or a meringue before, what I can say is imagine what cotton candy’s opposite would be texture wise while still retaining all the sugar.  It’s almost like a chalky consistency, but far from that in flavor.  And the best part about the home-made ones most especially is that they have a relatively gooey middle.

Suspiros have been part of my life forever.  Every Portuguese market I know of always has these big beautiful sweet treats stocked.  More candy than cookie, these special goodies were only bought every so often in my house, but when they were, we were always happy kids!  Unlike the American version (Meringues) which are only about the size of a half-dollar, Portuguese Suspiros are about the size of a hamburger bun.  They are best eaten slowly with a cup of tea.

In my opinion each and every holiday should include Suspiros, but none more than Easter!  After 40 days of Lenten sacrifice, there is nothing more satisfying that pure sugar! They can be colored, of course, to accommodate any theme (think pink for Princess tea parties or blue for a baby shower) and are a great addition to birthday parties and anything you might want something a little “out of the box” for.   As a major part of making these yummies is drying them out, it is best to make them when it is not too humid out and best stored in an air tight container or zip tight bag.

Preheat your oven to 225°F.

Start by adding about 2″ of water to the bottom on a medium-sized sauce pan. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

You want to be sure the sauce pan you use is smaller than the bowl of your electric mixer.

You want to be sure the sauce pan you use is smaller than the bowl of your electric mixer.

Separate 4 egg whites into the bowl of your electric mixer. Cold eggs aid in this process.

They won’t look like much in the bowl, but their volume will increase, don’t worry.

Use the egg yolks in a cake recipe or to make lemon curd or just discard.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of granulated white sugar.

Add directly to the egg whites.

With a hand whisk, incorporate the sugar in with the whites by beating well.

Once the whites and the sugar are beaten to a slightly frothy milky white substance, place the bowl on the sauce pan that you have brought to a simmer. Beat steadily and quickly with your hand whisk for about 3-4 minutes.

You will know the mixture is ready to remove from the heat when it looks like the sugar crystals have melted as you bring the mixture up the side of the bowl as seen here.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Once sugar crystals appear to have dissolved, place bowl on electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high until mixture has cooled and stiff peaks have formed. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

The mixture is so stiff that when I remove it from the machine and let it rest for transport to the sink, it just stays up right.

Stiff peak.

Ready your supplies. I am using a disposable pastry bag and an extra-large tip. If you don’t have these supplies, you can use a gallon size freezer bag and attach whatever size decorating tip you have, or just use no tip at all. The Suspiros will turn out just fine, they just won’t have the pretty carved look to them.

Prepare the bag by cutting off enough tip to accommodate your tip holder.

This is what you should have once it is all assembled.

I like to start by folding back about an inch from the top. whether using a pastry bag or a gallon size freezer bag, this tip helps to fill without incident.

The tip I am using today is a 1M by Wilton.

Fill the bag.

Unfold that top portion you had originally folded down. Pinch at the top so as not to lose too much mixture.

In a circular motion, pipe the mixture onto the parchment lined pan.

Build as high as you like. I like good hearty Suspiros. These are about 2 1/2″ in diameter.

Once all the Suspiros are built, they are ready for the oven.

Bake at 225°F for one hour without opening the oven door. Once the hour is up, shut off the oven and leave the Suspiros in the oven until completely cool about 1-2 hours more.

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Suspiros (Meringue)

Serves 16

Ingredients.

4 egg whites

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 225°F,

Beat egg whites with sugar by hand for about 30 seconds the bowl of an electric mixer.  Place a sauce pan on the stove with about 2″ of water in it.  Bring water to a simmer.  Place the bowl on the sauce pan and beat constantly.  (This is an important step as it both builds volume and keeps the mixture moving so that the eggs don’t cook.)  After about 3-4 minutes, check that the sugar crystals have mostly dissolved.  Remove from heat and return bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk mixture for about 4-5 minutes until stiff peaks can be formed.

Place mixture in a piping bag (or gallon size freezer bag) fitted with a star tip (or just with the end cut off).  Pipe a pile of mixture onto a parchment lined sheet pan in 3″ round circles.

Place sheet pans in the oven and bake at 225°F for one hour without opening the oven.  Then turn off the oven and allow Suspiros to cool completely in the oven before removing.  Remove from oven and enjoy!  Be sure to store in an air tight container.

 

Transfer to a wired rack for cooling completely.

Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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My son started pre-school last week. I can hardly believe that children are starting school as little as 3 years old! So we picked out his cool Superman back pack with matching Superman lunch box with a cute little cape.  But, I couldn’t let my little super man go in to school without something extra special from Mommy.  So, inside that little lunch box was a little pack of homemade Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

There are lots of varieties of oatmeal cookies.  Some people add chocolate chips, some nuts, some nothing extra at all… but there can only really be one Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.  A hearty mixture of rolled oats and sweet raisins, this cookie is filling and delicious all at the same time. The Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is time-tested and adored by generation after generation.  My children are part of that next generation that have fallen in love with this wholesome treat.

Let me show you how I made these…

You'll need two sticks of softened butter. (If you have cold butter right out of the fridge with no time to let it come to room temperature, you can do one of two things 1. dice the butter and wait about 20 minutes or my preferred method 2. pop both sticks in the microwave for 30 seconds, stopping to flip every 6-7 seconds until all 4 sides have been exposed to the microwaves face up)

You’ll need two sticks of softened butter. (If you have cold butter right out of the fridge with no time to let it come to room temperature, you can do one of two things 1. dice the butter and wait about 20 minutes or my preferred method 2. pop both sticks in the microwave for 30 seconds, stopping to flip every 6-7 seconds until all 4 sides have been exposed to the microwaves face up)

Add your butter into the bowl of an electric mixer… Notice how nice and soft it is.

Add light brown sugar to the butter.

Beat on medium/high for a minute or two until it’s looking a bit fluffy.

Always crack egg into a small bowl before adding in to a batter.

Add in egg. Beat thoroughly.

One more thing before mixing in your dry ingredients, add in your vanilla. Beat for 10 seconds.

Now start on combining your dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, add flour.

Add in a shallow teaspoon of baking soda.

Add in your salt… Traditionally people like using table salt or a fine salt in cookies, but in these, I prefer a slightly more coarse kosher salt. I like the little bite of salt here and there. So, I will leave that up to you.

Wisk your dry ingredients together.

Into the bowl you used to measure out your dry ingredients, add your oatmeal… A lot of people like to use quick oats in their cookies, I however, am partial to old-fashioned rolled oats. I like how they don’t break down as much and hold their shape and bite a bit better. If you prefer a softer more smooth cookie, then use the quick oats.

Add in your raisins to the oats. Then add this to your dough and beat for 5-7 seconds until combined. Don’t go crazy here, you could even fold them in by hand.

Here is what your result should look like.

 

Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, scoop out your dough. But, first be sure to have scraped down the sides of your bowl and incorporate fully.

Plop each scoop out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

be sure to leave about an inch and a half between balls of dough.

Bake at 340°F for 10 minutes until you see the edges start to turn golden.

Allow the cookies to start cooling on the cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a wired rack for cooling completely.

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Recipe for Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:

(yields 4 dozen)

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg, cracked into a small bowl

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1 tsp baking soda, shallow

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 340°F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and egg. Once done, add in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and wisk together.  Add into the creamed butter mixture.  Beat until combined.  Do not over beat at this stage as you will make the cookie tough.

In the same medium bowl measure out your oats and raisins.  Add in to the mixture. Beat for 5-7 seconds.

Using a 1 tsp. cookie scoop, measure out each cookie dough ball and keep them 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

Enjoy!