Chocolate Meringue Cookies:
3 large egg whites (100 grams)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular unsweetened or Dutch-processed), sifted
Chocolate Meringue Cookies: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the egg whites and sugar in a stainless steel bowl and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar has melted and is warm to the touch (about 2-5 minutes). Remove from heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl to remove any condensation. Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, (can use a hand mixer) and beat on high speed (start on low and gradually increase to high) until the meringue is stiff with glossy peaks (about 5 minutes). (When you touch the meringue it's cool to the touch). Add the vanilla extract, if using, and beat to combine. Sift the cocoa powder over the meringue and with a large spatula, gently fold the cocoa powder into the meringue (I don't completely fold the cocoa into the white meringue. I leave some swirls of the white meringue.)
Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding. With two spoons (can also pipe), place 5-6 large mounds of the meringue on your prepared baking sheet. If you like you can sift a little more cocoa powder over the Meringues and, with a fork, makes swirls and peaks with the Meringue.
As soon as you put the meringues into the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) and bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the Meringues have a crisp outside crust and release easily from the parchment paper. (If you break one open, the inside will be soft and marshmallowy. The longer you bake the Meringues, the firmer they will be inside.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. The meringues can be covered and stored at room temperature for 2-3 days (depending on humidity).
Makes about 5-6 large Chocolate Meringues.
It is hard to resist these billowy Chocolate Meringue Cookies with their powdery crisp crust and soft marshmallow centers. I just love how the crust melts slowly on the tongue, leaving behind a sweet yet deep chocolate flavor. While I often eat these just as they are, they make a very nice plated dessert that you can top with fresh fruit and whipped cream, creme fraiche, a fruit sauce, a chocolate sauce, an ice cream, or even a sorbet.
This Chocolate Meringue Cookie is made a little differently than most meringues, and that is because we are making a Swiss Meringue. A Swiss Meringue takes egg whites and sugar and warms them (using a stainless steel or copper bowl as it conducts heat quickly) over simmering water until the sugar melts and the mixture is warm to the touch. While this method may not produce as much volume as a regular meringue, (because the egg whites and sugar are combined before the egg whites are whipped) I find it's more dense and stable (making it very easy to pipe). And I just love how thick and crisp the outside crust becomes, while the center is wonderfully soft. You can, however, bake the meringues longer and this will make the meringues have firmer centers.
A few notes on making meringues. First, it's always easier to separate your eggs while they are still cold. And, as always, when making a meringue have your mixing bowl and wire whisk clean and free of grease. Baking the meringues in a slow oven allows for gradual evaporation of the moisture from the meringues, so what we are actually doing is just "drying out" the meringues. Also, meringues don't like humidity, so it's best not to make these on a rainy or humid day.