Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

You can tell when it's finals week. My baking increases exponentially. 

See, my major's not normal. We don't have finals. We have juries, aka, play for the music faculty and get a grade for your private lessons. They suck, but at least they're not real finals.

So while everyone's freaking out about their finals, I'm baking rather than practicing horn. Or practicing tuba. (Yes, I'm taking tuba this semester, it's weird.) Or studying for my one final.

Thus, meringue cookies.

As I was making these, all sorts of things were going through my mind. One, this recipe is crazy versatile. I mean, I swapped out the almond extract for vanilla (like I do for every recipe with almond in it.) But what about...peppermint? With candy cane chunks or mint chips? Or lemon? Or nuts? Or mini m+m's? You can do all sorts of exciting things with these cookies!

Two, meringue tastes an awful lot like marshmallows. According to wikipedia, marshmallows are typically made with sugar, corn syrup, water, (good...) gelatin, (shoot) and yes, sometimes egg whites. So I'm not totally crazy. Hmm, maybe I'll make marshmallows sometime this week...

17 years later, still mixing...
Three, who came up with the stupid idea of beating eggs until they form stiff peaks? I mean, it takes about 20 years with a mixer, and meringue is not a modern idea. (Again, wikipedia, we're talking at least the early 1600's) I want to know who looked at a bowl of egg whites, and said, "I wonder what will happen if mix these until my arm falls off?" Whoever it was, they were an idiot. Them, and whoever else makes meringue without a mixer.

In fact, even with a hand mixer, I felt a little stupid making this. This is one of those recipes that makes you appreciate your stand mixer, if you're not a starving college student and actually have one. 

But anyway, other than being a little bit of a pain in the butt to make (they're really not that bad, you just have to be veeeery patient) they were great. They were light and fluffy, so you don't feel so terrible eating 17 at once. Not like I did or anything. Mine didn't end up as cute as the pictures everywhere else, probably because I didn't beat the eggs enough. Hey, I got bored! So if you're going to make these, either toss them in the stand mixer and take a nap, or pop in some headphones and doze off with your hand mixer.

Not really, that sounds dangerous.

Also, fun fact: apparently meringue and diet coke react when mixed, like diet coke and mentos, but less explosive. It's a little freaky when you try to wash down your meringue cookie, and suddenly your mouth's full of bubbles!

Chocolate Chip Meringues
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate (6 oz.) or miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until thick and foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture holds stiff, shiny peaks.
With a spatula, gently stir in almond extract and chopped chocolate. Spoon 1/2-tablespoon portions into 1-inch-wide mounds (or with a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, pipe 1-inch-wide mounds) about 1 inch apart onto baking sheets.
Bake at 275 until dry and firm to touch on the outside and almost dry inside, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

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