Friday, September 24, 2010

Chocolate Meringues [Menu]

Light and fluffy

There are very few desserts in life that I would personally consider "acquired tastes". I mean.. it's still sugar, yes? And sugar is good in just about anything. But, as it would turn out, meringues are definitely an acquired taste for a lot of people.

Superfine production

Back when my best friend and I still lived in the same state, we would go through food "phases" together. I distinctly remember her introducing me to brussels sprouts - a food I never thought I'd like but now love - and tilapia (which I don't particularly care for now.. but, boy, did we eat a lot of it!). And I remember sharing with her the deliciousness of banana popsicles. One time in particular we were studying for a test together; the rule was : you get a question wrong? You eat a pepper. A ridiculous, painfully hot pepper. And what do you think the only cure for such an insane pepper burn is? Banana Popsicles. (By the way, we both aced that test.)

Whip it good

But meringues were something we both seemed to fall in love with at the same time. I believe her mother was the one to buy the first box. And, oh, I don't even think I can fathom how many boxes we have gone through since that fateful day. We would stay up all night eating Kroger meringues and Kraft mac n' cheese while playing Final Fantasy VIII or the Sims (or Metropolismania, later down the line). Those were wonderful, indulgent times.

Line them up!

Since she moved, I've had few occasions to eat meringues. I don't know many people who would bother to buy a box of them, and I feel silly buying a whole box for myself. But homemade meringues.. That's something people will try! Who the heck makes meringues?
You do! And they're super easy to make (as long as you don't mind getting a little messy). If you like meringues like I do, it's definitely worth giving it a whirl - that first crunch is amazing.

Light and fluffy

Recipe Ahead!

Chocolate Meringues
Adapted from Food Network

You Will Need…
A large bowl
An electric mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
A thin rubber spatula
Parchment paper
Piping bag and tips
3 eggs whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 c. superfine (castor) sugar*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, sifted (preferably Dutch process)

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. With an electric mixer (or a standing mixer), beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they're frothy. Add superfine sugar* and cream of tartar one tablespoon at a time on low speed. Beat on medium speed until the egg whites are stiff and shiny. (You shouldn't be able to feel the sugar granules in the egg whites.) Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and cocoa (gradually) until smoothly combined.

With a thin rubber spatula, put the egg white mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Slowly pipe 2-inch meringue "kisses" on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (try to keep them about one to two inches apart), making sure all "gaps" are filled. Bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours. After two hours, turn oven off and leave meringues in oven (with the door cracked) until the meringues are completely dry (which strongly depends on the humidity in your kitchen : in my case it took an hour. In others, you may have to leave them overnight).
Voila! You've created meringues! <3

*Note : Don't have superfine sugar? That's not a problem! Just take regular granulated sugar and give it a whirl in a food processor.. Keep it going for a minute or two and allow the sugar "dust" to settle. When you open it, you'll have superfine sugar for all your meringue-making needs!

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