Eggs are a staple food for me. I bake with them all the time. I can create an awesome gluten free recipe, but take away eggs and ask me to make a vegan one, and I struggle. I also eat eggs at least a couple times a week for dinner. That’s right; I’m a breakfast for dinner kind of gal. I love eggs poached, scrambled, baked, turned into a frittata or microwave omelet. I’m basically an egg freak.
Because I eat eggs so frequently, it’s important to me that my eggs are responsibly sourced from humanely treated chickens. When I’m cracking open an egg, I don’t always think about where it came from, and I bet you don’t either. I get it, when you’re in the middle of baking a cake, whipping up a brunch spread, or figuring out a quick dinner after a long day, you don’t want to have a conversation about where those eggs came from.
But by thinking about where your eggs come from and deciding to purchase cage-free eggs, you never have to worry about it again. Over 300 million hens in the US and Canada are living terrible lives, in a space about the size of an iPad. They can’t spread their wings or walk around, leading to injury and stress, which raises the risk of salmonella in eggs, and nobody wants salmonella in their eggs. In fact, it’s hard to even want to eat eggs when you learn how hens, who are social creatures and want to enjoy their lives, are treated.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix: buy cage-free eggs. Yep, it’s that simple. They might be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it to know those hens are happier and their eggs are safer. Cage-free hens are able to walk around, take dust baths, and be typical hens. It sounds to me like it’s a win-win situation. Half of egg buyers say they’d buy a different product if they learned it was made from animals that suffered unnecessarily. I’m definitely one of them.
I encourage you to sign the Pledge to Choose Cage-Free. This is such an important initiative from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. By taking the pledge and buying cage-free eggs change is possible, and the lives of millions of hens can be improved. Plus, the blogger who gets the most people to sign the pledge will win an interview with Chef Christine Cushing, a famous chef from Food Network Canada. So please, sign the pledge.
After you sign the pledge, you are going to want to stock up on cage-free eggs to make these delectable Lemon Meringue Pie Cookies. From the cakey vanilla cookies to the silky smooth lemon curd to the fluffy, sticky Italian meringue, these cookies are a fabulous mix of flavors and textures everyone is sure to enjoy. They were swiftly devoured in my house and will be in yours too!
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Zest of 4 lemons
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed
½ cup water
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 large egg whites
½ plus ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Make the cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Add the eggs and mix until once again light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
Add the flour and mix just until a dough is formed. Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared pan. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until cookies are golden brown around the edges and just starting to set. While cookies are hot, use your thumb to make a large indentation in the center of the cookies. Cool completely on tray. Cookies may be made 1 day ahead of time.
Make the lemon curd. In a medium saucepan, whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, and egg yolks. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter 1 piece at a time. Continue stirring until all the butter is emulsified. You may strain the curd if you like. I skipped that step. Pour the curd into an airtight container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Store curd in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the meringue. In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Once this happens, attach a candy thermometer, raise the heat to medium-high, and stop stirring. Allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the candy thermometer.
In the meantime, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Continue beating on medium-high until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
When the egg whites have formed stiff peaks and the sugar mixture has reached 240, remove the syrup from the heat and turn the mixer to medium-low. Slowly and immediately begin drizzling the syrup into the egg whites, trying not to get it on the sides of the bowl. If the whites are done whipping before the syrup is done, turn them off until the syrup reaches 235, then turn them back on to make sure they are fluffy. If the syrup is done before the whites, turn the heat down or remove it from the heat for a minute or so.
Once the syrup is drizzled into the whites, turn the mixer back up to medium-high and beat for about 7 minutes, until the bottom of the bowl is cool and the marshmallow is thick, glossy, and voluminous. Add the vanilla and mix about 1 minute more. Meringue may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Assemble the cookies. Generously fill the indentation in each cookie with lemon curd. Place several mounds of meringue on top and smooth with an offset spatula, covering cookie entirely. Once all the cookies are coated, turn on the broiler and broil until the meringue is golden brown. Cookies may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Additional cooling time is necessary
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.