I remember feeling bewildered the first time I ate a meringue cookie. I selected an alabaster-like star from behind a bakery counter. Within seconds, the cashier folded it in parchment and handed it to me. It felt weightless.
When I bit into the confection, I tasted sugar. That was it. And it was chalky. Not realizing I had eaten a mediocre cookie, I wrote off meringue for the next few years, inside and outside of my kitchen.
Thankfully, my sweet tooth and passion for baking, led me back to it. I found that if I followed a few simple guidelines, I could use meringue to produce a variety of elegant desserts, including the ever versatile, ever delicious meringue cookie.
Over time, I've paired meringue with toasted coconut, roasted walnuts, peppermint extract, graham crackers, and flirty purple food coloring. But, if you ask me, fine chocolate is it's best companion.
MERINGUE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies
3 large egg whites
2/3 fine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Cocoa for dusting
Heat the oven to 175 degrees. Place parchment on two cookie sheets.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl. Beat on low speed until frothy on top.
Add the cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium and beat until the egg whites form soft peaks.
With the beaters still running, slowly pour in the sugar.
Increase the speed to high and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
Carefully fold in chocolate.
Spoon a teaspoon or so of batter onto the parchment paper. Leave an inch between each cookie.
Bake for 2 hours or until the cookies no longer stick to parchment.
Dust with cocoa.