How to make Claire Saffitz's vanilla coconut meringue swans

·3 min read

Pastry chef and author of the cookbook, "Dessert Person," Claire Saffitz joined “Good Morning America” for our 12 days of Christmas cookies.

Her vanilla coconut meringue swans may look too pretty to eat but it will leave your loved ones coming back for more this Christmas. And it’s the perfect cookie recipe to replicate “seven swans-a-swimming” from the Christmas carol.

Saffitz shared some of her baking tips below to make the perfect meringue.

MORE: How to make Chef Pati Jinich's Bizcotela Vestida cookie recipe for Christmas

Vanilla Coconut Meringue Swans

PHOTO: Pastry Chef Claire Saffitz's vanilla coconut meringue swan cookies. (Courtesy Claire Saffitz)
PHOTO: Pastry Chef Claire Saffitz's vanilla coconut meringue swan cookies. (Courtesy Claire Saffitz)


1¼ cups granulated sugar

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

3 large egg whites

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup (3 ounces) dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut

½ ounce each of dark and white chocolate

Vegetable oil, and red and yellow food coloring


Prepare your baking sheet and preheat the oven: Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a permanent marker to draw 5 question marks across the parchment in a 3 x 5 grid, spacing evenly. Turn the parchment paper over and set the sheet tray aside. Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 275°F.

Set up your double boiler: Place a medium saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water over medium-low heat and bring to a very gentle simmer.

Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and vanilla scrapings and massage with your fingertips until you have a fragrant mixture with evenly dispersed vanilla seeds. Add the egg whites and kosher salt and place the bowl over the medium saucepan. Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch, fluid, and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes (rub a dab between your fingertips -- you shouldn’t feel any grit).

Whip the meringue: Remove the bowl from the heat and lock it into the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on medium-low, gradually increasing medium-high, until you have a very stiff, glossy, dense meringue, about 1 minute. Beat in the lemon juice.

Pipe the swan necks: Use a flexible spatula to transfer about a cup of the meringue to a pastry bag or a large resealable plastic bag. Snip the corner to make an opening of about a ¼ inch, then on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pipe 15 swan necks following the lines you drew, starting at the base of the question mark and finishing around the curve. As you finish the curve, try to make a peak of meringue by flicking the pastry bag to form the swan beaks. Squeeze any meringue remaining in the bag back into the bowl.

Pipe the swan bodies: To the bowl of meringue, add the dried coconut and fold until evenly incorporated. Scrape the mixture into the same pastry bag and snip a larger opening, this time about 1 inch wide. Pipe 15 mounds of meringue at the base of the swan necks to form the bodies.

Bake the swan meringues: Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake on the center rack until the meringues are firm and dry to the touch but still soft in the centers, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

MORE: GMA 25 Days of Cookies

Saffitz's tips for making the perfect meringue

Massaging sugar and vanilla brings out the vanilla scent and flavor.

Save the vanilla pod and soak in vodka to make homemade vanilla extract.

Make sure the eggs are cold when you separate them, because the yolk is less likely to break.

For stiff, glossy meringue, wipe out the bowl with a paper towel soaked in a little lemon juice or vinegar.

How to make Claire Saffitz's vanilla coconut meringue swans originally appeared on