As we get closer to December, I've been doing a lot more baking than usual. Partly because I've been trying new recipes ahead of the busy holiday baking blitz, but also because I wanted to try some new cookie recipes for my upcoming Cookie Advent Calendar.
I pulled these meringues out of a baking cookbook that I've never used before (I seem to have a lot of cookbooks that fall into that category). They were super-easy to make, although I have modified the recipe a little for my own tastes.
After posting a photo of these meringue bites on Twitter, I ended up in the midst of a debate (with some really amazing bakers) on whether or not meringues (and macarons) should be classified as "cookies". I have never thought of meringues as cookies, but then again, I had never thought of bar desserts (ie. brownies, lemon bars) as cookies either and apparently they are. That's what I love about this whole food blogging adventure - I'm learning so much every day!
In any case, I think of these meringue bites more of a dessert (or confection) than a cookie. Especially because I think they would make a lovely base for a dessert - either crumbled up with some ice cream or (if you flatten them out before baking) as a base for some jam and whipped cream.
Whether you eat these plain like a cookie (like we have been) or use them as part of a more fancy dessert, they're delicious and very easy to make.
cocoa meringue bites
source: adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position the racks so that the oven is divided into thirds and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silicone mats).
Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa.
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer with a large bowl (make sure the bowl is very clean and dry), whisk the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are opaque. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and continue to whip the egg whites as you add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue whipping at medium-high speed until the whites are firm and hold stiff peaks - they should be very shiny.
Beat in the vanilla. Once the vanilla has been mixed in, you can turn off the mixer.
With a large rubber spatula, quickly but gently fold in the confectioners' sugar and cocoa mix. The whites will deflate as you fold in the dry ingredients - just try to work quickly and use a light touch so you deflate them as little as possible.
Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, drop large spoonfuls of meringue onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the mounds.
Dust the tops of the meringues very lightly with confectioners sugar.
Bake both baking sheets for 10 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for one hour more.
Remove the baking sheets 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 or silicone lining. (Be careful - if they haven't cooled completely, the bottoms will stick and tear!)
You can store meringues in an air-tight container for up to a week.
yields: approximately 24 meringues