…make meringue cookies!
This week involved a bit of a kitchen challenge. On Wednesday, after I left for work, went to the market and picked up some local milk and goat cheese to take home, then had a day during which I just couldn’t concentrate – aches and pains and general malaise – I received an e-mail from Luis (I had left my phone at home, oops) saying that our refrigerator was dead. Had in fact died quite completely in between breakfast and when he returned for lunch.
The raspberry frozen yogurt that I made last weekend was a puddle leaking onto the floor. The 5 lbs. of peaches I had purchased this summer, cut up and frozen for winter use were a bag of mush. The frozen lasagna was warm through and through.
We went out for dinner. There wasn’t enough in the fridge that I was confident was salvageable to make dinner.
We returned and cleaned the whole thing out, tossing everything from science projects to the much beloved, now melted, frozen yogurt. The chutneys and mustards and jams would be fine, so I left them. The cheese and eggs and butter went into the fridge across the hall. The 3 egg whites went outside to freeze, since I didn’t think they were bad yet, and I really wanted to make the meringue cookies from the February 2007 Eating Well magazine. (Why it didn’t dawn on me to just put EVERYTHING outside until the next morning, I don’t know.) I went to bed.
Thursday evening I followed up on cookie plans, and made what are truly divine little drops of chocolate heaven. I usually avoid meringue cookies at parties, they’re dry and leave my mouth feeling like I ate chalk. Sweet, usually pastel colored, chalk. But the description of these little bites, “These meringue cookies have a puffy, fragile exterior and a moist, soft interior. They deliver an enticingly bold, knock-your-socks-off bittersweet chocolate experience,” was just too much to miss. Plus, I had those three egg-whites.
It turns out, while mine aren’t as lovely as the ones pictured in the magazine, they are as tasty and delightful as advertised. I took them to work, and secretly was very happy that many people were out, so I could bring more home.
So, with no further ado, the unadulterated recipe, straight from Eating Well (I make no claims of originality, I’m merely spreading the love).
Dark Chocolate Meringue Drops – makes 40 “2-inch” cookies
- 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60-75% cacao), divided
- 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process), sifted after measuring if lumpy
- 3 Tbs. cocoa nibs (optional)
- 1/3 c. egg whites (about 3 large), at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 c. sugar, divided (use 1 1/2 tsp. less if cocoa nibs are omitted)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (and coat the paper with cooking spray if you wish, I didn’t, but it would help getting the cookies off).
2. Coarsely chop 3 oz. chocolate and place it in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 minutes. Stir, then continue heating on medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until mostly melted. Stir until the remaining chocolate melts completely. (Or melt however suits you best.)
3. Chop the remaining 2 oz. chocolate into pieces the size of mini chocolate chips (this really is the key, I think, to how wonderful the cookies are). Combine in a small bowl with cocoa and cocoa nibs (if using – I didn’t have any on hand).
4. Combine egg white and cream of tartar in a clean medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed until soft peaks start to form.
5. Immediately add about 2 Tbs. sugar; beat for 1 minute. Slowly, about a Tbs. at a time, add the remaining sugar, then vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, opaque, glossy and thickened, about 2 minutes longer.
6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, raise the speed to high, and beat for 30 seconds more.
7. Lightly fold in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and the melted chocolate just until evenly incorporated and no streaks remain; do not overmix.
8. Immediately drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
9. Bake the cookies, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until just firm when gently pressed on top, but still soft inside, 8 to 12 minutes.
10. Transfer pans to wire racks and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Then slide the paper form the pans to a flat surface and let the cookies cool completely, about 15 minutes. Gently lift the cookies form the parchment paper using a wide-bladed spatula.
It sounds like a lot of steps, and there are some things to keep in mind, but they are very easy cookies to make. This was my first attempt at meringue anything, and though they aren’t perhaps the prettiest example of their kind, but they’re well worth it. I’m sure you’ll do better!