Sunday, May 10, 2009

chocolate-cranberry chunk meringue cookies

A recipe I made earlier this week called for three egg yolks, and though I didn't have anything specific in mind for the whites, I threw them in a jar in the fridge. A lot of recipes seem to call for one part of the egg or the other, and I have a hard time wasting the leftovers, particularly as often as I've been baking. This week seemed like a good time to make meringues. Though I generally have had poor success with Cooking Light baked goods, I like this recipe - perhaps because it's intended to be almost nonfat by nature. Here's another recipe that combines chocolate with cherries, and again, I substituted dried cranberries. This one uses unsweetened chocolate, which is surprisingly palatable against the sweetness of the meringue and chewiness of the cranberries. Original recipe is here.
ETA: Jenn's comment reminds me that I didn't say how they tasted. They're good! Definitely crumbly-crisp, and the only chewiness comes from the cranberries, which kind of stick to your teeth. I liked the size of the dark chocolate chunks (probably around chocolate chip-size or a tiny bit bigger) in contrast to the sweet, dry meringue.

Chocolate-Cranberry Chunk Meringue Cookies (adapted)
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (3 ounces) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 200ºF.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 14 x 10-inch rectangle on paper, and then turn paper over. A couple of quick notes to start. First, I wasn't going to measure the rectangle, but did on a whim, and I'm glad I did: the parchment was almost 14x10, and if I hadn't measured, I would have spread the meringue batter much thicker than intended. Second, as fond as I am of silpats, I like to use parchment for meringues. I think the meringues peel off the parchment more easily. Also, you will need to score the batter after spreading it (before baking), and I wouldn't want to use a sharp knife on a silpat.

OK, onto the batter. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high, and gradually add granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add almond extract; beat just until blended. Fold in cherries and chopped chocolate. Spread batter onto parchment rectangle with a rubber spatula. Score rectangle into 1- or 2-inch squares using the tip of a sharp knife.

Bake at 200ºF for 2 hours. Turn the oven off, and cool meringue in closed oven 1 1/2 hours or until dry. Carefully remove meringue from paper. Break into squares. Sometimes mine break right along the scored lines, and sometimes not. It's okay if they come out uneven. Another note: I actually made this recipe twice in the last few weeks, and the first time, I left it in the turned-off oven overnight (simply because it was after 11 by the time I finished baking them). I think the heat of the oven dried them out too much, and I wanted them a tiny bit chewier, so this time, I tried baking them a little less (about 1 hour, 45 minutes) and letting them sit in the turned-off oven a little less (about 1 hour, 15 minutes). I'm not sure it made any difference, unfortunately, though they do soften a bit after a day or two.

I actually really like making piped meringues as well, though the semi-large chunks of chocolate in this recipe probably wouldn't fit through any but the largest piping tips easily. Pipe whatever shape you like (I usually do kisses/stars) onto a parchment-lined sheet, about 1/2" apart, and bake as above. Start checking them after about an hour to see if they are dry yet. Once you decide they look dry enough, continue with turning off the oven and letting the cookies rest inside for about an hour and a half. You can also drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls for a more rounded look.

Here's the mixture, spread on the baking sheet:

Scored and baked, but not yet dried in the oven:
The final product:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OH. How'd they taste?