Sometimes the sternest methods yield the most whimsical results. Such is the case with meringue cookies.
Nothing makes me feel like I’m Baking (with a capital “B”) like making these meringues. The separation of the eggs. The melting of the chocolate. The multiple water baths. The whisking. Oh, the constant whisking.
These cookies only have three ingredients. And they’re really very easy to make. You just need to follow a few simple rules. Absolutely no yolk in the egg whites. Don’t overwhip the meringue. And so on.
When done right, they’re beautifully marbled, crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. They’re a light and delicate ending to an elegant dinner—or a fantastic and fancy surprise to tuck inside a bento box lunch.
If you’re familiar with making a meringue, skip ahead to the recipe—I do a bit of overexplaining in the paragraphs that follow. If this is your first time and egg whites scare you, read on!
A note on method, equipment & ingredients
Normally, I kind of fly by the seat of my pants when I cook. Not so when I make these.
I lay everything out beforehand. I move slower than usual. I actually do check things twice. Because with this one, timing and technique count. You don’t want to curdle your egg whites by over-whipping them. You want to fold in the chocolate until it’s barely combined—and then stop.
You can make these cookies without any special equipment. A hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment helps, but you can also whip the egg whites the old-fashioned way: by hand. (Hey, your biceps will thank you in the morning.)
You also need to make two water baths: one to melt the chocolate and one to heat up the egg whites and sugar. Traditional double boilers will work, as will heatproof bowls set over sauce pots of simmering water.
The main thing to understand is that fat is a meringue’s arch enemy. This means that when you separate the eggs, be sure you don’t have any yolk in with the whites. Any yolk at all will keep the whites from whipping up right.
If you’re unsure about the business of dealing with egg whites, this video from Epicurious explains the technique really well. (Your whites will be glossier than these, because they have sugar in them.)
OK. Enough explanation. Let’s get baking.
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (if you’re using Baker’s chocolate, that’s 3 wrapped squares)
4 egg whites from jumbo eggs
1 cup sugar
First, the pots and pans
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Fill two medium-sized saucepans with a few inches of water. Set both on the stove to bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Melt the chocolate
Roughly chop the chocolate into smallish pieces. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over one pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally to melt.
When the chocolate has melted, turn the heat off. Leave it on the stove, stirring occasionally while you prep the egg whites.
Start the meringue on the stove
Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the second pot of simmering water and whisk steadily for about 5 minutes. You want to bring the temperature up slowly so your mixture thickens.
Finish the meringue at your mixer
Transfer the bowl from the stove top to your mixer. Whip on high for about 5 minutes, until the whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
When the egg whites look like they do below, stop. It’s completely possibly to whip a meringue too much, which results in an icky, curdled mess.
Drizzle in the chocolate
When the egg whites are ready, remove the bowl from the mixer. Give the melted chocolate a stir. Pour it over the egg white mixture.
With a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the chocolate. The goal is to marble it through the egg whites�not mix it in completely. A few folds should suffice.
Drop the cookies onto the baking sheets
With a soup spoon, drop large blobs of the marbled meringue onto your prepared baking sheets. Leave a few inches between cookies.
Bake, cool & enjoy!
Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 275 degrees, or until completely hard on the outside.
When done, transfer cookies carefully to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
They should be crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Serve as a light dessert with strong coffee.
Store in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Makes 18-20 large meringues.