This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Mike of Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude: cocoa almond merginues. Heat and humidity are the enemy of meringues so this late summer weather wasn't ideal timing for the recipe. That said, my freezer is perpetually overflowing with leftover egg whites (thanks to lots of ice cream making) and I was grateful for an opportunity to put some to good use, so I cranked the a/c, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Because the recipe only called for a few ingredients, I didn't scale back at all. In fact, I didn't deviate from Dorie's instructions one bit. You start with egg whites, which are beaten (with a little sugar) until they form stiff, glossy peaks, and then gently fold in a mixture of cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar, and finely chopped almonds and chocolate. The key is to get these ingredients incorporated without deflating the egg whites too much. Meringues can be really pretty if piped, but Dorie's method was more rustic, calling for just spooning them onto the baking sheets. The cookies are baked briefly in a moderate oven, then the heat is reduced and they spend another hour finishing up. I did a little experiment, baking one sheet of my meringues on parchment and the other on a Silpat, to see if there would be any differences, but the results were nearly identical. Dorie's yield (30 cookies) did seem low to me. I made well over 40 and the last 10 or 12 were much bigger than she instructed.
I've made meringues before, and they were ok, but nothing I could ever see myself craving. Something about them was just too plain for me. The addition of the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate in this recipe, however, really kicked things up a notch - these were so flavorful! The outer shell was crisp and fragile, and when you bit into the cookie a chewy, chocolatey interior was revealed. Plus, since they're mostly egg whites, it was easy to justify eating more than one. I shared them with my mom but if I hadn't, I don't think they would have lasted long around here.
Many thanks to Mike for hosting this week! He shared the recipe on his blog, or you can find it on page 155 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.