Meringues

recipe for chocolate meringues

I often search for gluten free dessert options with my sister, Karyn in mind.  Whenever there is a gathering, I would rather make a dessert that is naturally gluten free so that she can enjoy it, too.  Although she insists that she doesn’t want anyone to go to any trouble, it is troublesome to me that someone may have to skip dessert because of an allergy or intolerance of some kind.

On one occasion, it was a birthday party, if I recall correctly, I was making my mother’s favorite dessert, a specific, gluten filled cake that would not work with my sister’s dietery restrictions.  But happily, I came across this recipe for Chocolate Chip Espresso Meringues that sounded absolutely delicious.  I knew that she would love the flavors and the fact that there would be no need to make any special substitutions that may or may not work out as intended, was icing on the cake.  So I made these confections just for her and packaged the rest up for her take home and enjoy later.

When Karyn arrived early to help with my mother’s birthday dinner, I happily informed her that I made something special, just for her.

“I made you some chocolate espresso meringues!!” I blurted out.  Eager to have her try one.

“I hate meringues!” she said with such emphasis, that I dared not mention them again.

But as the evening went on and everyone sang happy birthday, I got madder and madder about her comment.  I knew she would like them and how rude was her response to a gift that I made for her?  I was determined that she would at least try them. she didn’t even know what she was missing, damn it!

While everyone else was enjoying cake, I pulled Karyn into my office where I was keeping her special stash of Chocolate Meringues.
“Get in here and try these, they are really good.” I said as I pulled her arm.

Karyn looked at the meringues and decided that they were worth at least a bite.  Well, her face told me the rest.  Then she devoured three more in quick succession before heading back into the kitchen to join everyone else.

Later that night, after everyone when home and all the dishes were done, I got a text from her:

“I just ate the last meringue.  They are so good.  Will you make me some more?”

Aaah! Sisters.

meringues made with chocolate chips and espresso

Chocolate Chip Espresso Meringues

(Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, March 2016)

(Makes about 24 small ones)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

2  oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons instant coffee

 

    Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

   Place egg whites in a medium bowl with cream of tartar.  Mix with a hand mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and begin adding sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Beat until the whites are stiff , about one minute.  Fold in chopped chocolate and salt.  Sprinkle cocoa and instant coffee on top of egg white mixture.  Fold together 2-3 times to lightly incorporate.

Spoon about 24 dollops of meringue onto prepared baking sheet.  (About one heaping tablespoon each)  Using the back of a spoon, gently flatten the tops of the meringues.  Place in oven and bake for one hour until the meringues are firm on the outside and still chewy on the inside.  Let cool completely.

Can be stored in an airtight container for one week, if they last that long!

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Gingerbread Men

cookies made out of gingerbread

Aaah, holiday treats!  Candy canes, chocolate Santas and all manner of inventions to be found on Pinterest!  But truly, nothing says Christmas time more to me than the flavor  and scent of gingerbread cookies.  Especially these gingerbread men cookies: my mother Val’s recipe found in her Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery.  She accumulated each volume by collecting stamps at the supermarket.  Those books served her cooking repertoire well, long before the internet came along.

I can understand now that I have two kids of my own going here and there, them needing rides and chaperoning in every waking moment of the day that Val had to delegate the cookie making to us kids considering she had three children’s activities schedules to juggle.  Sometimes the cookies came out well but many of them were often burnt on the edges or undercooked and the decorating….let’s just say that after the one time my younger brother was allowed to help, his presence was no longer requested in the kitchen.  Gingerbread men covered in red gel frosting for blood and green gel camo outfits were not what my mother had in mind to hand out to her friends as holiday gifts.  We ate a lot of gingerbread men at home that year.

Whatever your decorating style, I am sure that you will find these cookies to be tasty.  They hit all the right notes in flavor and aroma from the molasses and ginger.  Perhaps you will be brave enough to employ some child labor of your own in the decorating.  Or you can drop the kids off to their scheduled activities and keep the fun of adding frosting and sprinkles to yourself.

 

Gingerbread Men

(makes about 3 dozen)

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

2 3/4 cup flour, plus more for rolling out dough

2 teaspoons dried, ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk (regular will do, in a pinch)

frosting, sprinkles, candy decorations

Mix molasses, sugar and butter, well.  In another bowl, mix together flour, ginger, salt and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, stirring well until smooth.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  (Overnight is best as this step is CRITICAL.  You will literally pull your hair out if you try to roll out the dough before it is chilled.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove about 1/2 cup of dough from the refrigerator (keep the rest chilled while you are working).  Roll out dough on a well floured board to 1/8″-1/4″ thick.  Cut with floured cutters and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.  ( I use Silpat liners or parchment paper would work well, too.)  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until just before cookies brown on edges.  Remove from oven and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely before decorating.

If planning to hang cookies on tree, make a hole about double the size you want the end result to be in the cookie BEFORE baking.