You know how you read a recipe online, or in a cookbook, and the author claims it’s “super-easy” or it’s labeled as a beginners recipe? You know you have the ingredients on hand, and it looks good, so you decide to give it a go, thinking you’ll be able to pull it all together in a jiffy. Then it’s NOT, super easy, that is. This totally annoys the snot out of me. And I don’t even like talking about snot. I only say this to show you the depths of my irritation when this happens to me. That being said, I’m not going to tell you Meringues are easy. The good news is that they aren’t actually hard either. What they are is temperamental.
As you may have noticed in Monday’s post Meringues were on my ‘make soon’ list. I kind of figured from the recipes I’d browsed that they would be relatively easy and come together quickly. My first batch? Utter flops. The egg whites would just not puff or form “stiff peaks”! I’m telling you temperamental. Still, I was determined to pull off these Meringues, so I did some research to try and figure out what was up with my egg whites. There were actually a few possibilities… and I managed to glean the important do-s and don’t-s of Meringues which I’m going to share with you right here so your batch comes out perfect the first time. Just because they are temperamental doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make these Meringues. (BTW my second post research batch, perfection itself!)
In fact, you most definitely should because they are oh so tasty, and have the most amazing texture. Just the slightest bit of crisp on the outside, yielding to a chewy interior, and they are light as air. The last is probably because they are more or less made out of air! Which also means they are relatively low cal as far as desserts go. And don’t be turned off by the low cal either because those chocolate flecks in my recipe elevate a low cal dessert to decadent.
Now that I’ve convinced you these are worthy of your time, heres what you need to know before you start:
- Make sure all your equipment is super clean! We all wash our baking stuff well I’m sure, but if there is even a little bit of butter residue (or other fat) left on your stuff it will totally ruin your whites and they won’t puff! Consider wiping all your equipment down with a paper towel before you get started.
- Use glass or metal equipment.
- Be very, very careful separating your yolks from your whites. Get any yolk in there, and same problem as above the whites won’t puff! I’d recommend separating one egg at a time into a separate little bowl and then transferring them to the mixing bowl when you are positive it doesn’t have any yolk in it. If you get yolk in it, get rid of it and start over.
- Let your eggs warm up to room temperature (wait 30 min) it actually matters.
- Whip those whites properly. Use a hand mixer with two beaters. Don’t bother whipping by hand, it will make your arm so tired. Don’t use your kitchen aide with that super deep bowl and single whisk unless your making a jumbo batch. It won’t actually reach the eggs well enough to whip enough air into them and guess what they won’t puff! (BTW this is what was wrong with my first batch.
- Be patient, don’t add the sugar too soon.
- Make sure the sugar is beat in properly before you move on to the step. If you look closely you’ll be able to see the difference.
- Let the Meringues cool in the oven for 1/2 to 1 full hour. The gradual drop in temp will prevent cracking.
- Otherwise follow the directions and you’ll be fine!
Big Puffy Monster (Chocolate Flecked) Meringue Cookies -Yields 15-18 2″ wide cookies.
- 4 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 bar 3.6 oz of dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 86% coco.)
1. Carefully separate the eggs one at a time, keeping only the whites. Be sure not to get any yolk in! Transfer the eggs to a glass or metal mixing bowl and allow to sit for 30 minutes until they reach room temperature. When the eggs have reached room temperature, preheat the oven to 325*. Prep two baking sheets with a sheet of parchment paper and set aside. Use a food processor to grid your chocolate into super fine shards, but not quite a powder. Set aside.
2. Add the salt to the egg whites. Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat the egg whites until very foamy. They will at first have large bubbles in them and then gradually have smaller and smaller bubbles in them, until they resemble cappuccino foam. They will more then double in size. You can expect this to take 1-3 minutes. When they look like this you are ready to move on to the next step.
3. Continue to beat the egg whites and slowly, in a steady stream pour in the sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. The egg whites will first begin to look like whipped cream, and will gradually get thicker. You will know you have “stiff peaks” when you can turn the bowl upside-down and the whites will not fall out. The sugar will also be fully dissolved into the whites and even if you look closely you will not see any little granules. This will take about 5-8 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla extract and beat until mixed in, don’t mix any more then necessary. Set aside the mixer. Add the chocolate to the whites and use a spatula to gently fold in.
5. Transfer the whites to a party bag or ziplock with one corner cut off. Pipe the whites in rounds about two inches wide, onto the parchment paper lined baking trays. Space about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake at 325* for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat. Do not open the oven door. Allow the meringues to cool in the oven for an hour, this will prevent cracking. Then remove and finish cooling on a baking rack.
Note: Store in an art tight container for up to two days.