February 6, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Meringues

 I've mentioned a few times how I've never really had a tradition of cooking in my family, even though we're Italian and love food. Not only is that true, but it also colored my perception of how difficult things would be to cook and make. I never knew anyone who made frosting, so I always assumed that is would be really, really hard to do. Color me surprised the first time I tried it out and it was the easiest part of the baking process.

These meringues are another example of that sort of thinking. I have never made meringues before because my mother always swore that whipping egg whites was so difficult and it was so easy to overmix them that I always avoided any recipe that called for them. I was a nervous wreck the first time I made white cake. I watched the egg whites like a hawk, but they were fine. And then the next time something called for whipped egg whites, they were fine. And the next time, they were fine.
I'm still not completely sure if I'm some sort of meringue savant, or if my mother just has a meringue phobia. Either way, you will never catch me attending to something else while the egg whites are whipping, because my mother put the fear of god into me.

Despite all of this, these meringues were really easy to make and are naturally gluten and fat free. They are light and crispy and airy and full of melt-in-your-mouth goodness. And really, you can never go wrong with the chocolate/raspberry combination.
As for me, they're not really my favorite. I prefer my desserts a little more on the substantial side. But they're a great gift, and are super impressive, especially if you know someone with a meringue phobia.

Chocolate Raspberry Meringues {Printable Version}
Yield: Approx. 2 dozen meringues

4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
1 tsp. raspberry extract
Red food coloring (optional)
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 250°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using electric beaters, beat at medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar. Beat until stiff and glossy. Reduce speed to low and add the cocoa, extract, and food coloring, mixing until just incorporated. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Scoop the meringues onto the prepared cookie sheet by rounded tablespoonful, leaving about 1 inch between each. Bake for 1 hour 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Best of the Kitchen Library: Desserts