It's not often that I come skipping into the kitchen on a Friday morning at 7am. (Usually, I am either still asleep then, or grumpy that I'm not still asleep then and rummaging around the fridge for a snack because of course if I'm up at that hour I'm starving.) But THIS Friday, when I woke up to get ready for a morning teaching stint, I had chocolate meringues to wake up to. Ahhh....
Before I proceed any further, let me just thank two amazing mothers: my own (who gave me the standing mixer) and my boyfriend's (who gave me the idea to make these most delicious of confections that, until last weekend, I had never heard of before). FINALLY, a good use for all of the dang egg whites I keep generating with all of these custard desserts I keep making.
I know, it's a tough life.
Speaking of tough, consider the half year of unemployment of my poor standing mixer. Since I've more or less given up gluten, and thus bread-making, he's been sitting there sulking, stashed in a large tote bag under a table in my kitchen for the better part of the past six months. But now look at him: beating egg whites and sugar and cream of tartar like a champ:
Though I was nervous, after my only other attempt at meringues a handful of years ago failed miserably, I opened up my oven last Friday morning to two trays of delicate, perfectly set cookies with melty chocolate centers. At first, I was actually a little worried they hadn't cooked all the way through -- they seemed a bit sticky on the outside, where I recalled meringues of my childhood being quite dry -- so after taste-testing one (purely to be sure that I would be the only one suffering from food poisoning, should it happen from undercooked cookies) I turned the oven on the lowest setting for about a half hour while I got ready for work. I taste-tested another one, which was a bit more firm, turned off the oven once more, and headed out the door.
The rest of the two dozen cookies disappeared over the next two days during a series of picnics, brunches, and raidings of my kitchen by a meringue-crazed boyfriend.
They were perfect. So I'm sure you'd rather I just stop yammering here and get to the recipe. Here you have it: an adaptation of the (in)famous "Forgotten Kisses."(There are some really great tips and visuals here, for those of us new to the meringue-making racket.)
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
- 3-4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (er, so, like half of your 1/4 tsp spoon)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar, finely ground in your coffee grinder (and if it comes out a little coffee-flavored, well then, enjoy the mocha meringues!)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or peppermint extract, which I am to try next)
- ½-1 bag Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
Set racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy and frothy, about 20 seconds.
Add the cream of tartar and salt; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and soft peaks form, 45-60 seconds.
Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue beating until glossy and stiff, 4-6 minutes.
Beat in the vanilla extract, then fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Use two spoons to drop heaping tablespoons on the prepared baking sheets about an inch apart. (They don't really spread, so you can put 'em quite close together if you're short on space.)
Place the cookies in the oven, shut the door and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies in the oven for at least 8 hours or overnight to cook.
When completely cool, store in an airtight container…in you can resist eating them all on the spot, that is.