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Archive for November 2009

A Sweet Thank You – Cocoa Almond Meringues

Thanksgiving is almost here! A wonderful reminder that we have so much in life to be thankful for.  So I wanted to thank you, my readers, for the tremendous support you have shown me since the launch of AZ Cookbook, for your friendship and loyalty, for bearing with me and coming back to read whenever I disappeared then emerged again. If not for you, this blog wouldn’t have existed and kept at in the first place. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

As a way to thank you I wanted to post a recipe of something sweet I like a lot, and after contemplating the choices, I decided on Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa Almond Meringues.

I have made them twice over the past two weeks and absolutely loved them every time.  In the introduction to the recipe, Dorie mentions that these cookies “have a rough, craggy surface of stone nuggets” and that “their interiors are wonderfully chewy.” This is exactly  how my meringues turned. They didn’t look like perfectly shaped meringues you would see in stores, but their taste and texture was much superior. They are feather light and feel like tiny clouds in your mouth, melting away quickly and pleasantly. The first time  I made these cookies, I added shredded coconut to the batter, and the second time – chopped raw walnuts. The meringues with coconut were very delicious with subtle notes from the coconut,  but they were a tad less puffier than the ones with walnuts, that came out beautifully risen although not cracked as in the picture in Dorie’s book, but delicious nonetheless. The family says no more buying meringues from a store. Who would now that we are head over heels with Dorie’s meringues?

Thank you, Dorie, for the wonderful recipe. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Cocoa Almond Meringues
barely adapted from “Baking: From My Home to Yours”, by Dorie Greenspan

Notes: The original recipe says it yields about 30 cookies. I was able to get 17 only both times. Perhaps you could get 30 if you made the meringues really small. Also, the recipe calls for dusting the meringues lightly with confectioner’s sugar before baking them. I tried that the first time, thinking they would add to the looks of the meringues, but they melted away and actually added to the sweetness. Since the cookies are sweet enough by themselves, I omitted that part in my second batch and it worked fine.

Makes about 17-18 medium size meringues

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (variations: replace the coconut with equal amounts of –  finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, or finely chopped store-bought chocolate chips, or toasted chopped almonds or pecans, or walnuts) - Note:  I didn’t roast the walnuts.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Sift together the confectioner’s sugar, ground almonds and cocoa. Working with a stand mixed fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large dry bowl (make sure the bowl is impeccably clean and dry), whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip as you add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time.Then whip until the whites are firm and hold stiff peaks – they should still be very shiny. Beat in the vanilla, and remove the bowl from the mixer. With a large rubber spatula, quickly but gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the shredded coconut (see the ingredients list for variations). The whites will inevitable deflate as you fold in the dry ingredients – just try to work rapidly and use a light touch, so you deflate them as little as possible.

Drop the meringue by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the mounds.

Bake for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200F and bake 1 hour more. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the meringues to stand in a cool dry place, (not the refrigerator) until they reach room temperature. Carefully peel the meringues off the parchment paper of silicone lining.

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