Cocoa Almond Meringues
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes about 30 cookies
Ahh, meringue cookies. Almost guiltless, light-as-air, crunchy-fluffy little puffs. I remember discovering meringue cookies as a kid with my mother when we tried a recipe in a community cookbook called “Forgotten Cookies.” We marveled at the simplicity of beating egg whites and sugar, dropping spoonfuls on a cookie sheet, and then baking them overnight. So simple! So ingenious. No, I don’t remember at what temp they were to be baked overnight, or maybe we turned the oven off and left them in there, or something? It seems kind of hazardous, when I think about it, but they were called “forgotten,” after all. What’s more forgetful than leaving the oven on?
So anyway, that’s my history with meringues. That, and buying them at Trader Joe’s, leaving them at my desk at work, and eating a year’s worth of sugar in just a few days.
I have been fascinated by the concept of macarons lately, and since I’ve never made them, I thought this little recipe that I came across might be a good introduction to folding almond meal into whipped egg whites. I still haven’t attempted actual macarons, and I don’t know if or when I will, but these little meringues had a tantalizing texture as they were. They were light and puffy on the outside and chewy-chocolatey on the inside, almost tootsie-roll-esque. I could barely tell there was any chopped chocolate in them, so next time I’d probably chop the chocolate a bit more coarsely.
Here you go:
1 C. confectioner’s sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1/3 C. finely ground almonds
1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/3 C. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the confectioner’s sugar, ground almonds, and cocoa. (Note: If you have a food processor, it’s incredibly easy to grind the almonds. Just toss a handful in and pulse until you have a fine meal.)
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large dry bowl (make sure the bowl is impeccably clean and dry), whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip as you add the granulated sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time. Then whip until the whites are firm and hold stiff peaks — they should still be very shiny. Beat in the vanilla, and remove the bowl from the mixer. With a large rubber spatula, quickly but gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the chopped chocolate. The whites will deflate a bit as you fold in the dry ingredients — just try to work rapidly and use a light touch so you deflate them as little as possible.
Drop the meringue by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the mounds. Dust the tops of the cookies very lightly with powdered sugar.*
Bake for 10 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temp to 200 degrees and bake for 1 hour more. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the meringues to stand in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until they reach room temperature.
Carefully peel the meringues off the parchment paper. Store in an airtight tin in a cool, dry environment.
Notes: I tried to make the cookies tablespoon-sized, but I still ran out of room on my two cookie sheets and had leftover dough. I baked two cookie sheets side-by-side in the oven, but I suspect you could do one sheet on each rack. Use the racks to divide the oven into thirds first.
*I tried dusting the cookies with powdered sugar, but it just clumped and looked ridiculous, so I forwent that suggestion. If you’re patient enough to sift your extra powdered sugar, you’ll probably have better luck than I did.der