Chocolate Almond Meringues

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Jennifer Pallian
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I was planning on making ice cream for my book club this week.

See, I have this habit of sometimes not reading the book. Then, overcome with horrible guilt and shame, I bring yummy food to distract from this major book club transgression.

I have observed that the crowd's attention is very easily drawn from book to food. So far this strategy is working for me.

Don't get me wrong, I love reading. I enjoy discussing. I appreciate being given a reason to read a book every month.

If the book club were made up of people who generally only wanted to read happy books that made them clap and cry happy tears and have dreams about puppies and rainbows, my book-finishing success rate would be dramatically increased.

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But I was the kid who got big time nightmares from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and sobbed at the sad parts of Disney movies. As an adult, I just need happy books, okay?? None of this Diving Bell and the Butterfly stuff with the "locked in" situtation and the not being able to talk to his 7-year old daughter on the phone and...not being able to EAT FOOD....

How does all that relate to meringues? I was going to make ice cream to distract my co-bookclubbers from the fact that I did not finish the book. Ice cream requires numerous egg yolks. I would have been left with numerous egg whites. What could one do with numerous egg whites? Make meringues.

See, these were strategic meringues. Except... I didn't end up making ice cream. I made hot artichoke dip and cookies instead. So now I'm left with yolks...

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These french cookies are known as "rochers", pronounced "row-shay". To make them you need to beat egg whites into very stiff peaks. You then fold in ground almonds, cocoa powder, and chocolate chunks. You bake them at a very low temperature for 1 hour.

If you can't find ground almonds (sometimes called almond meal or almond flour), you can make your own by finely chopping blanched whole almonds in the food processor for 30 seconds or so.

The hardest part of the recipe is waiting those torturous sixty minutes. They will be smelling incredible.

The resulting cookie is crisp on the outside, and like chewy, chocolate-y marshmallow on the inside. They are heavenly, and light as air.

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That air-like quality might lead you to believe that eating several of them is a good idea. You will regret this course of action. They are very sweet. More than two will sugar-punch you in the face.

Let me get all dietitian-y and say, these yummy meringues are a fantastic gluten-free option if you have any friends or family members with celiac disease coming over for Christmas. It is sometimes tough to find gluten-free treats that taste amazing, and aren't trying to imitate something made with flour. They also make a great lower-cal addition to the cookie plate. Don't let the "lower-cal" thing put you off, though, they are deeeeeelicious.

Chocolate Almond Meringues

Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup very finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

1. Position racks at top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together confectioners' sugar, ground almonds and cocoa. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium high and beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla, then use a spatula to gently fold in almond mixture and chopped chocolate.

3. Drop meringues by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets (or if you're feeling fancypants, you can use a pastry bag to pipe them into pretty "kisses"). Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for 1 hour more. Cool to room temperature before removing from pans. Store in a cool, dry place.