Cactus Meringue Cookies
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
When Islander and her brother were in Arizona for a work conference a few years ago, they took a break from some of the sessions and went sightseeing in Phoenix, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. They enjoyed the drive through the desert and imagined that the saguaro cacti were waving to them! The tour guide even stopped along the way and picked a prickly pear for us as a succulent snack.
Some cactus plants are edible and are characteristic of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. Below are a few nopales photographed outside of Islander’s brother’s house and some being sold at a grocery store in Texas.
However, it is the distinctive saguaro shape that inspired us to create cute cactus cookies for a fiesta. We also make cactus meringue cookies for Cinco de Mayo celebrations! Olé.
(Based on our Meringue Skeleton Bones post)
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup sugar (granulated white)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
- green food coloring
- green sugar sprinkles
- pink fondant flowers (see a similar tutorial here or here)
- pink tube frosting
- yellow tube frosting
With a handmixer or in a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and pinch of salt until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until shiny.
Stir in the vanilla. Mix in the food coloring. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip with the meringue. Trace the cactus pattern on top of a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Start tracing with the cactus’ left arm, then the right arm and finish off with a downward middle stroke.
Remove the pattern from underneath the parchment paper. Sprinkle with green sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F for an hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to dry for another hour. Remove from the oven and carefully peel off the meringues from the parchment paper.
Make the fondant flowers and let dry. Attach to the meringues with a dab of pink frosting. Finish by piping a small round center with yellow frosting. Seal in an airtight container in a single file. When ready to serve, arrange in single file on a platter. Avoid stacking them or the meringues might stick to each other. Yield: Approximately 2 ½-3 dozen cactus meringue cookies.
- Download our cactus pattern here.
- Saguaro cactus flowers, when in bloom at night, are white and yellow. But we colored our fondant flowers in the shade of prickly pear pink.
- Humidity affects this recipe. Leave the cactus meringue cookies in a warm oven for a dry, crisp dessert. Otherwise, our friends have told us that the soft meringues still taste delicious as they melt in your mouth like a marshmallow.
- Muchas gracias to Phyllis S. for helping to make the fondant flowers for our cactus meringue cookies. For a review of making fondant flower cutouts, please see our posts here or here.