Thursday, May 03, 2007

Experimenting with Meringues and Chocolate

Who would ever guess these pale-looking flecked meringues pack a strong, bittersweet chocolate flavor? Again, I had extra egg whites to dispose of after making lemon tartlets for a dinner guest, and thought this might be a chance to try another recipe from my favorite cookbook of the moment, Bittersweet. Meringues keep for a long time, so I could just make them, pack them in a box and forget about them.

They're very easy to make, and are surprisingly chocolatey when you bite into them. And yet, I'm not sure I would eat them on their own very gladly. Perhaps the chocolate I used (72% cocoa) is too bitter. Perhaps I'm not a huge fan of meringues. But I think they would work well as a decoration or base for a dessert with other flavors.

Recipe: Chocolate Meringues
Source: Alice Medrich, Bittersweet
(Recipe somewhat abbreviated)

- 5 ounces (140g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup fine sugar (133g) (you can process regular sugar in food processor to make it finer)
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 tspn salt
- 1/8 tspn cream of tartar (I'm sure you can do without if you don't have any)
- 1 to 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, I didn't use any)

1. Preheat oven to 200°F (95°C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. You can draw circles on the paper if you want to make meringue disks for building a dessert.
2. Pulse chocolate with about 1/3 of the sugar in a food processor, until it looks like fine crumbs.
3. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar, taking 1 to 1 ½ minutes. The meringue should stand in very stiff glossy peaks when the beaters are lifted.
4. Pour all of the ground chocolate mixture over the meringue and fold it in with a large rubber spatula just until incorporated. If you are using a pastry bag, scrape the meringue into the bag. Pipe large circles or small meringue shapes as you wish. Use a fine strainer to sprinkle the tops of the meringues lightly with cocoa, if desired.
5. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool completely in the turned-off oven. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

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I was about to hit "publish" when I remembered another recent experience with meringues and chocolate, which I actually did enjoy eating very much, and which luckily I thought to photograph for a possible future post.

I made these with the left-over meringue batter from my last celebration cake, Meringue d'automne. I then sandwiched some of the left-over chocolate mousse between two meringues, and voilà, yummy little treats. I'll post the recipe for the meringues below, as I think this recipe makes for more tender meringues than the one above. As for the mousse, I'll post it later when I finally get around to giving the full recipe for the Meringue d'automne cake. Just so you know, it's very rich in butter, which may be a good thing to insulate the meringues so they don't get soggy.

Recipe: Meringues
Source: Pierre Hermé, Larousse du Chocolat

- 4 egg whites
- 200g (1 cup) sugar
- 1 vanilla bean

1. Preheat oven to 120°C
2. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out its seeds.
3. Whip the egg whites at medium speed, while sprinkling, from the beginning, and very gradually, half the sugar, and then the vanilla seeds. Continue whipping until the eggs are quite stiff, shiny and firm.
4. Pour in the rest of the sugar gently and very carefully fold it in with a spatula, taking care not to work the egg whites too long to avoid deflating them.
5. Pour batter in pastry bag and pipe shapes (disks, individual meringues) on parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
6. Place baking sheet in the oven, close door but prop a wooden spoon to keep it open a crack. Bake for 20 minutes at 120°C, then lower the temperature to 100°C. Bake for another 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the meringues dry out for 2 or 3 hours, leaving the spoon in the oven door. Let the meringues cool on a rack.

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And on a final note, since I've decided to cover all my meringue and chocolate experimenting -- but sadly here I have no picture -- the first recipe should not be confused with Melting Chocolate Meringues, also from Bittersweet. This recipe uses melted chocolate and nuts to make "deceptively light and delicately crusted" cookies that are "moist and meltingly bittersweet within." I've made these several times in the past and they were delicious.

The only thing is they never came out very pretty for me, which is why I haven't posted about them (honestly I have to remember to make them small or they look like something you might find in a cow field... sorry). But you can find some good posts about this recipe on Fool for Food (in German) or Brownie Points (in English). And if I ever do make a pretty batch, I'll be sure to take a photo and update this post.

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Whoops, I'm not done yet! By coincidence, the same night I made the top-most recipe two other bloggers posted about meringues: Again, Fool for Food with these tasty-looking raspberry meringues, and these ethereal maple meringues on Jumbo Empanadas.


Tanya said...

So cute! Especially the mousse sandwiches. I'm not a big fan of meringues either, but I really enjoyed some in Gruyeres with dipped in their famous double cream. Maybe try that - most groceries around here carry that double cream (good with raspberries too). Glad to see you're still baking :)

Claudia said...

The chocolate merengues look perfect. It's the same with me: I eat one merengue and that's fine. I wouldn't get addicted to them but nevertheless they work well as deocrations or a base for desserts.
I'm looking forward to the mousse recipe :-)

Brilynn said...

I need to work on my piping skills so that I can have swirly meringues like yours!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

The chocolate meringues look great...they remind me of "cookies & cream" ice cream. I am sure they would be a hit with kids.

Astrid said...

Tanya - I remember your description of these meringues in Gruyeres. I still have meringues left, I might try them (if I can work up the courage to buy the double-fat cream...)

Claudia - Yes, I tried the meringues with coffee ice cream, yummy.

Brilynn - Thanks, I know nothing about piping but learned some from watching videos on the PBS Julia Child video site.

Culinary Cowgirl - Actually I brought these meringues to a lunch with kids (3 to 5 years old) and the children did like them very much.

valentina said...

Astrid, these are lovely. I have been toying with the idea of some meringeus - I have a DH mag which is full of them. Your post has sort of encouraged me.; o )

Richard said...

Dear Astrid,

can you put your email on your profile - or drop me a line as I want to contact you!