Taste the Love: A Valentine’s Day Treat
Fluff Meringues’ Kristin Collins shares her favorite recipe
by Lauren Jones
Photographs by Holly Cowart
On a crisp, early morning in mid-February, entrepreneur Kristin Collins is hard at work in a North Austin kitchen. Peaks of sweet white meringue begin to form as a mixer whirrs loudly on the marbled kitchen island. The smells of vanilla and pistachio waft through the air. Since opening her shop Fluff Meringues & More in September of 2018, Collins has taken on many hats from brainstorming new recipes to accounting to whipping up late-night treats. “I do all of our social media and outreach, our bookkeeping and I’m trying to start a wholesale program,” she says.
Collins, who comes from an advertising background, tried meringue for the first time while living in England where she was finishing up a master’s program.
“I had never had anything like it except in lemon meringue pie,” she recalls. “When I moved back, I realized these are perfect for people’s weddings because they are naturally gluten-free, naturally dairy-free and fat-free, so they’re great for all kinds of people without forcing anything.”
Upon returning home, Collins continued her career in advertising, but soon grew dissatisfied and craved change. Change came she remembers, in the way of a “shove from the universe.”
“I was working full time and baking on the side. I gave myself a deadline that if I didn’t find a new job or wasn’t in serious negotiations for one that I would stop and pursue [Fluff],” she says. “That deadline came, June 30, 2014, and I was a finalist for a dream job in Chicago. They called me at 4:30 that afternoon telling me they went with the other candidate. I gave myself a day to be sad and filed for the LLC the next day to start my business.”
While she jokes that she can’t make a chocolate chip cookie to save her life, Collins’ meringues, a blend of both Italian and French meringue styles, are downright magical. From the multicolored cotton candy drops to the build-your-own pavlovas, adults and children alike are mesmerized by the sugary confections.
“We’re constantly wiping fingerprints off the glass because the meringues are at four-year-old level,” she says.
Come spring, Collins is planning to start selling both sweet and savory macaron plus unconventional takes on Eton Mess (an English classic), and strawberry shortcake, ideas which stemmed from her growing pastry team.
“Everyone is really creative,” she says. “We have an awesome, solid team who’s here to be great at what they do.”
This Valentine’s Day, Collins aims to share her love of meringue with the Austin community and gave us the exclusive on how to make delicious vanilla and pistachio meringues.
Vanilla & Pistachio Meringues
150 grams of egg whites
300 grams of granulated sugar
5 grams of vanilla extract
300 grams of chopped pistachios
1. Weigh out each ingredient. Ratios are important for good meringue.
2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and pour sugar out onto the parchment.
3. Heat the sugar at 350 degrees for seven or eight minutes, which will help the sugar dissolve into the egg whites.
4. Crack egg whites into a bowl, being careful to avoid any yolk. If any yolk sneaks in, it will turn a beautiful meringue into runny pancake-like batter.
5. Add the egg whites to a stand mixer, starting at mid-speed, and beat until stiff peaks begin to form.
6. Once the whites are stiff, remove the sugar from oven, slowing beating it into the mixture at full-speed.
7. Beat the whites and the sugar until a smooth, sticky and shiny meringue forms.
8. Add in the vanilla extract by hand.
9. Spread the chopped pistachios on a piece of parchment paper.
10. With a large spoon, scoop the meringue and then roll across the pistachios. Drop each scoop onto the parchment with pistachios on the bottom.
11. Place in a 215-degree oven for 90 minutes.
12. Once cooked, remove the meringues from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
13. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container.