Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cocoa Almond Meringues

I am really not a nuts person.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we don't like nuts in our baked goods (especially not in brownies -- yuck).  You might think that we don't like these cookies, since they are called cocoa ALMOND meringues, but you would be wrong because they are delicious and we love them.

I first made them because I had so many left over egg whites from making ice cream and the whites were taking up space in my freezer.  I don't know where I first learned this trick, but when I separate eggs, I freeze the whites in small ziplock containers.  When the white is frozen, I pop it out and keep all the whites in a bag and use them when I need them.  However, my bag of frozen whites was getting kind of full, so I decided to make meringues with them.

This is another Dorie great and they are melt in your mouth delicious.  And, even though they are made out of egg whites, they are surprisingly forgiving.  I could not find the ground almonds that the recipe called for, so I chopped them by hand in my nut chopper and even though the pieces were not that well ground, they still worked.  I also didn't chop the chocolate so fine, and they were still delicious.  I liked finding a little bit of nuts or chocolate in each bite.  I highly recommend these cookies, if you have extra egg whites lying around (or even if you don't).  They are light and delicious.  

Here is the recipe:
1 cup powdered sugar plus more for dusting
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup very finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or finely chopped store bought chocolate chips

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.  

Sift together the powdered sugar, ground almonds and cocoa.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, 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 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 inevitably deflate 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 cookies.  Dust the meringues lightly with powdered sugar (I skipped this step by accident).

Bake for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven door, reduce the oven to 200 degrees F and bake for one hour more.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the meringues to stand in a cool, dry place until they reach room temperature.

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