Monday, January 18, 2010

[Cookie 059] Chocolate Meringues

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I'm all about pretty things. If it looks really nice, or is designed really well, or is just very aesthetically pleasing, chances are I'll overlook it's other flaws simply because I'm so infatuated with it's visual appearance. This goes for many things: dresses, tea pots, shoes, fabric, photographs, animals (like this one). Some call it superficiality, but I just appreciate style in any form I guess.

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But, there are limitations. Cookies, though I am often attracted to the prettiest ones, are generally not better tasting when they're better looking (duh). I mean seriously, those Orange Cardamom Madeleines I made ages ago looked like all Madeleines do (read: adorable!), but they tasted baaaaaad. And those Lime Meltaways? Remember? They tasted like rainbows and sunshine and world peace, but they didn't look like much.

What I'm trying to say is that I have reservations when I see a cookie in The Book that's really fancy lookin' and takes a lot of pastry-chef skills--I tend to think it might lack in the taste department. So when I come across a recipe for a super purdy cookie that tastes amazing too, then I'm totally sold. I'm giddy. It's cute? And tastes cute?! When can I organize my next tea party??

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Okay, that was a huge preamble to today's adorable and totally amazing cookie: the classic Meringue (this time in Chocolate!). Two particularly notable aspects of this cookie are it's perfect size and it's perfect texture. Oftentimes Meringues are made to be about the size of an egg or a tad larger, and then they're just impossible to eat because once you bite into them they shatter and explode everywhere. Messy. You'll get escorted out of your tea party with behavior like that. Crumbs in your chiffon dress or chiffon cake? Party foul, indeed--call Security.

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And other times, Meringues come out too hard and dense, also causing them to be tricky to eat. Broken teeth are another tea party faux pas, in case you didn't know. These, on the other hand, were perfectly bite-sized and light and airy. And their chocolate flavor really tasted like that of chocolate milk or hot cocoa, so you can think of them as crunchy hot cocoa (or don't think of them that way...that's a little weird/gross).

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But look at them. Really. They really are cute as a button, right? And despite their fancy looks, they are dead easy to make! All you do is whip up your egg whites into oblivion and then fold them into the chocolate and scoop a bunch of the batter into a star-tipped pastry bag. Then you just squeeze them out one by one and bake for two hours. Yeah, a really long baking time, but it is worth it in every way. Friends will be impressed. You'll swoon the opposite sex. Your boss will give you a promotion. You'll find the meaning of true happiness.

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Maybe not. But you'll get to eat a cookie without feeling guilty! And they're perfect for Valentines Day/S.A.D. Day too! So who ever said that pretty things were useless? I'm pretty sure no one did, but here's more proof that that's false anyways. Go forth! Bake! Don you prettiest apron, set out your prettiest China, and go buy some false eyelashes. Beauty calls!

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Note: First you make the Swiss Meringue, which is a plain, unflavored meringue, and then you add the cocoa! That's why there are 2 parts of the recipe.

Chocolate Meringues
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

Ingredients

Chocolate Meringue
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Swiss Meringue
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Chocolate Meringue
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift 1⁄4 cup of cocoa over the meringue, and fold so that streaks of cocoa remain.
  3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice (we used an Ateco #5 star tip); pipe out cookies in small coils or desired shapes onto baking sheet. Bake until cookies lift off parchment easily, about 2 hours. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Swiss Meringue
  1. Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
  2. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers.
  3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use meringue immediately.

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{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 5/5 (If you don't have these ingredients, who d'ya think you are??)
Tastiness: 4.5/5
Attractiveness: 4.5/5
Is it worth it?: Duh!!! The pay off totally outweighs the minimal amount of effort involved in making these!

{Pairings}
Drink: Milk, or maybe a strong tea, like a Rooibus. Coffee would probably over-power the delicateness of the cookies.
Song: Fold -- Jose Gonzalez
Activity: Playing dress up. Or, on the contrary, you could dress like a slob and eat fancy petit-fours and finger food in your basement. It's up to you.

8 comments:

Becky said...

Love this post and all your fun details. Definitely want to try this one!

screwdestiny said...

Mmmm, I so want to go make these now.

Elsa said...

Love your pictures!

Adriana said...

your blog is seriously amazing... i'm gonna add you immediately to my blog roll! when you're done with the cookie book, you should start another one! to keep us reading!

Adriana from http://bakingpowders.blogspot.com/

Kim said...

I've always wanted to make a meringue cookie. Seems like such a light little treat. I could eat several before I would even start to feel guilty ;D

Anne said...

hey did you censor my comment!? haha, fine. Next time I'll try to be more eloquent! ;)

Lizzie said...

anne! i never got your first comment...and there is no doubt in my mind that it was more than eloquent, knowing you

CarinE said...

You are so cool! I love your recipes! (especially it's all about CHOCOLATES!!) post more!