Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Espresso Chip Meringues

Randomly Nick and I were talking about cookies.  I honestly cannot remember why we got started on the topic, but the next thing you know, I am off to the races attempting to make meringues.  Why meringues over the thousands of other types of cookies you ask??  Well because we got it in our heads these were "healthy cookies," mostly air - that and we had all the ingredients.  Also, it didn't hurt that we had a meringue cookie from Flour and it was delicious.

Nick found a fun looking recipe by Giada de Laurentiis so I went for it.

The necessities...
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup superfine baker's sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

The Ingredients

This is another one of those recipes that is made much easier by using the stand-up mixer.  I have not only fully converted to using one, I cannot imagine my life without one.  Having to whip egg whites without one sounds dreadful!

With the whisk attachment in place, I added 3 egg whites into the bowl and starting mixing at the recommended low to medium speed and added the salt.  However, this did not seem to be getting me very far, so I upped it to medium-plus - at least that is what I will call it.  When the egg whites became frothy (about a minute):

My version of frothy eggs
I upped the mixing speed to medium high and slowly added superfine sugar - about a tablespoon at a time (I think I went slower than that).  Since I barely have enough room in the kitchen for plates, I definitely did not have superfine sugar on hand.  Instead, I took my regular granulated sugar and put it in my coffee grinder and MADE superfine sugar.  It took a bit more sugar than the 3/4 cup of granulated sugar to get the 3/4 cup of superfine sugar (surface area).  Since these cookies are espresso flavored anyways, I did not worry about the coffee flavoring from the grinder.

Mixing in the sugar
Next, while everything continued to mix, I added the cream of tartar, vanilla and espresso.  The cream of tartar is actually from Christina's Spice and Specialty Foods, which if you haven't checked out, you must!  They have such an amazing variety of spices that are a really high quality.  You can also find Christina's spices at least at Savenor's Market.  Once everything was added, I increased the mixing speed to high.

With the espresso, et al. mixing away
While I was supervising the mixing, Nick was chopping up some chocolate chips to fold in later.

Chopped Chips
The mixture was done when it was thick and could hold its own peaks.  This took about 4 or 5 minutes.

My, what lovely peaks you have!
Then I added my nicely chopped chocolate chips to the mixing bowl and gently folded them into the egg mixture.

With the chips
Then I scooped blobs of the blended mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  The recipe is supposed to make 12 cookies.  However, it makes 12 BIG cookies.  It was only about this time I actually (or Nick actually) read through the cooking instructions and realized they take awhile.  So we did not want to make another pan of cookies, so had to "suffer" with the big portions - so much for sharing!

Ready for the oven
As you can see, these were not molded very carefully.  They look more rustic and homemade this way, just in case you really have to convince people that you actually made them from scratch!  When I put these on the pan, I did not think they would really expand in the oven, so some were a bit close.  However, I was wrong in my assumption, this definitely did expand, but I only had to break a few apart at the end.  Luckily I was safe from one big cookie blob!

The cooking process for these is interesting.  You cook them for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, then you rotate the tray and cook them for another 30 minutes at 300 degrees.  After that, you turn off the oven and let them sit inside for another 2 HOURS!  Something to note because you do not want to start these too late...

The finished product!

Finished cookies!
I have to say, I was not sure what to expect making these...I was actually kind of expecting little rocks to come out of the oven.  So I really surprised when the cookies rose and were really light and airy.  Neither the espresso nor the chips were at all overwhelming.  Further, other than the long cooking time, these are surprisingly easy to make (the stand-up mixer makes it even easier).

I am happy to know that I can make these now and they even taste good.  They are a great cookie to have in your repertoire when your old standbys are not quite doing it for you.  No matter the reason you make them, they will make a great impression on your audience, even if it is just you!

1 comment:

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