It’s been oppressively hot and humid in LA recently, and I thought you might want to look at some sweets that remind you of cooler, airy-er times. These meringues are delicate, crispy, and light as a cloud. They’re only slightly sweet, and the milk chocolate square in the center adds a touch of rich, creamy contrast. Note, I did not make these during the hot humid weather as they don’t set up well in humidity.
(from King Arthur Flour)
Makes 20 to 24 meringues
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) granulated sugar
candied cherries and/or bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a dash of salt.
- Beat until peaks form, then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
- Pipe a base of meringue onto the sheet, using a pastry bag and star tip; place a candied cherry, or a couple of chunks of chocolate, atop the base. Pipe meringue to cover the cherry or chocolate.
- If you don’t want to pipe meringues, simply drop by tablespoonfuls onto the sheet. A tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Place cherry or chocolate in the center of each meringue; cover or leave exposed, your choice.
- Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off, and leave them in the turned-off oven until they’re completely cool, 3 hours or more. This is a good cookie to make in the evening; they can be left in the oven (with the heat turned off) overnight.
This is a story of of an incredibly forgiving and flexible recipe that helped avert a baking disaster. It’s a story about using less than ideal ingredients, cutting corners, ignoring instructions, being in denial, pushing forward even with barely a glimmer of hope, and emerging victorious with a fantastically delicious cookie.
These are all the ways that I deviated from the recipe and nearly ended up with a baking disaster.
- I didn’t have enough almonds so I used almond flour (from Trader Joes) and pecan pieces, about half of each.
- My cream of tartar was old (and apparently ineffective).
- I used egg whites from 4 large eggs, but I did not measure to see if they actually equaled 1/2 cup, and I didn’t bother waiting for them to reach room temperature.
- I barely achieved soft peaks when whipping my egg whites, and I didn’t get anywhere near stiff peaks, thus ending up with a severely runny meringue.
However, I did make a few good decisions that likely made a big difference in the outcome.
- I used Nielsen Massey almond extract.
- I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- I allowed for ample space between the cookies because they spread a lot during baking.
- I let the dough sit on the cookie sheets for 40 minutes before baking.
- And ultimately I did not throw away the batter before doing a test bake (even though I was really tempted to do so).
The results were more fantastic than I could have ever imagined. While my nut meringue cookies didn’t look anything like the high piled cookies in the cookbook, they did look a lot like big thin macarons. They turned out to have the most divine texture with a light, crispy top and chewy center. The almond extract really shone through packing a lot of flavor in a deceivingly light cookie.
Nut Meringue Cookies
(From Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes by Alice Medrich)
Makes about 90 1 1/2-inch cookies
1 2/3 cups (8 ounces) blanched whole almonds
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 large eggs), at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the almonds, powdered sugar, and salt in the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground, scraping the sides as necessary.
- Using the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a large clean, dry bowl at medium speed until the egg whites are creamy and white and soft peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted.
- Add the almond extract.
- Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until the whites are fluffy and very stiff.
- Pour the almond mixture over the meringue and fold in with a large rubber spatula just until fully incorporated.
- Scoop tablespoons of batter 1 inch apart onto the lined cookie sheets. (While the first two sheets are baking, scoop the remaining batter onto a third lined sheet or onto a parchment liner to be baked when the first batch is done.)
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cookies are golden; rotate the sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
- Set the pans on racks to cool completely, or slide the parchment liners from the pans onto racks.
The cookies keep in an airtight container for weeks.