Friday, January 3, 2014

Meringue Drops

There is something very therapeutic about making meringue. Perhaps it is the transformation of egg whites and sugar into a sweet, fluffy white confection. Or maybe the rhythm of piping and the orderly rows are pleasing. I don't know what it is, but to me the process of making meringue treats is just plain fun.

Last year around this time I wrote about meringue mushrooms. This year I decided to mix it up a bit by adding some nuts. It does not matter whether you use pistachios, pecans, or almonds or semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate. The choice is yours, feel free to try different combinations. You could even use white chocolate and crushed candy canes in place of the nuts for an added twist. Like the meringue mushrooms, these little treats seem to delight both young and old and have a way of disappearing quickly.

When the meringues are completely dry and crisp they are easy to remove from the parchment paper. They pop right off. 

Put the dipped meringues on the parchment paper-lined trays to set up before storing in an air-tight container.

Meringue Drops

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter or a pinch of salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
6 ounces (170 g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (125 g) pistachios, pecan, or almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200℉ (93℃). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Put egg whites and cream of tarter or salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar. Continue beating on high speed until very stiff about 5-8 minutes.  

Put mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) tip. Put a small amount of meringue in each corner of the trays under the parchment paper to keep the paper in place. Pipe drops of equal size on the parchment-lined trays.

Bake for an hour, then switch the trays in the oven and bake until completely dry and crisp, up to two hours.  

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over simmering water or in a microwave on 50% power. Put the chopped nuts in another small bowl. Dip the flat part of the drop in the melted chocolate then dip in the chopped nuts. Allow to set up before storing in an air-tight tin. 

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