Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Especially meringues

I am in love with meringues. Total, complete unabashed love. I used to think of them only as something my mother would like, but as I've grown older I've come to understand that my mother is always right. About everything. Including meringues. Especially meringues.

It is divine, the way they melt on the tongue, their initial crunch yielding to a sweet, light interior. They can be made so quickly, with ingredients you most likely have on hand, that there is little excuse not to make a batch on a random Wednesday after work. And though they aren't good for you good for you, they are a cookie made without butter and with fluffy egg whites, so I like to think that on The Big Master List of Foods That Are Terrible -- Just Terrible! -- For You, these rank near the bottom.

Personally, I am ready for meringues to enjoy their day in the spotlight. If the beloved macaron and the trendy, tasty cupcake can have boutique bakery after boutique bakery dedicated to their sweet goodness, then why not the meringue? They are every bit as lovely, and their pastel etherealness would beckon from any gleaming dessert case. Customers might even line up around the block for one. If Carrie Bradshaw was still gracing our small screen, I'm willing to bet she'd park herself on a bench and snack on some meringues with Miranda while lamenting Steve's inability to pay for a designer suit and whining about Aidan's apparently maddening desire to commit.

But I digress. The meringues I made tonight to enjoy during the ever-brilliant "Lost" (hello, Jin!) are flavored with instant espresso and chocolate chips. Even though chocolate would not be Mom's first flavor choice -- she'd prefer vanilla, or coconut, or raspberry -- I can't help but ignore her advice on that front. I guess she doesn't know everything after all.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding?

A note: From now until Valentine's Day, A Stove With A House Around It will feature all baked goods, all the time. I contend that people's annual healthy-eating resolutions expire on Super Bowl Sunday, when the lure of chicken wings and chili and guacamole spread out over a huge platter and decorated with a sour cream 50-yard line proves too great a temptation to even the most dedicated dieters. Then Valentine's Day follows only two brief weeks on the Big Game's heels and...well...goodbye, resolutions. So whether you're looking for something sweet to bake for your husband, or cookies to send to your mom, or a cake to make for your favoritest lady friend, be sure to stop by over the next week for some yummy dessert recipes.

Adapted from "Everyday Food"

3/4 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 t. instant espresso powder
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (or, if like me, you only have one oven rack, then place it in the middle and be prepared to bake two separate batches). Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk to combine and break up the lumps of cornstarch. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until frothy. Continuing to beat constantly, add the sugar mixture a little bit at a time. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, which will take about 8-10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times during this process, to make sure the sugar is incorporated.

Add the espresso powder and cocoa; beat until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop (or a teaspoon), drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie. Bake until crisp, about 50 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Cool completely on the sheets, then, try to compose yourself as you eat all 40 meringues.

Makes about 40 meringues, which will last through almost one entire episode of "Lost."


robert said...

would you like to debate that "mothers ALWAYS right" thing with father

Dianne said...

No, because I'm not entirely certain that she's ALWAYS always right. Just, you know, most of the time. Some examples of when she's wrong:

(1) Standing in front of the TV when the Steelers are on.

(2) Carrying French porcelain casserole dishes with arthritic fingers across a slippery driveway.

(3) Purchasing lace-up winter boots that force you to bend over to put them on.

NOW, the real question is: Is Father always right???

robert said...

no, but I'm always "father"

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I think meringues have a reputation as being a bit old-fashioned... you know, my granny would have loved them. I agree with you -- they're light and melt in your mouth, which gives you a lot of "mouth feel", which makes you feel satisfied while eating less. Perhaps it's time for a movement: "Bring back the meringue!"

Dianne said...

Dad, it's true! You are always "father!"

Lydia, maybe that's why I like them so much. I have always had a soft-spot for the old-fashioned.