Light and fluffy mocha meringue cookies melt in your mouth with a combination of sweet sugar and the rich bitterness of espresso and dark cocoa.
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Mocha Meringue Cookies
Meringue cookies are such a simple pleasure. It’s the texture that does it for me. The outside, with its tiny bit of crunch and residence. The inside, so light and fluffy it just melts on your tongue. Like a cross between a candy and a cookie, meringue is just kind of magical in its own special way.
These particular Mocha Meringue Cookies were inspired by a twist on a traditional drinking chocolate (a historical term for hot cocoa) that I created as part of my collaboration with Lost Colonies. Like a lighter, fancier marshmallow, they float just on the surface of the luscious brew and act as a sweet counterpart to the rich, bitter drink.
With a dash of espresso powder and a scoop of grated dark chocolate, these Mocha Meringue Cookies have a special touch of decadence and depth of flavor. I used the same history-inspired grated cocoa that I used in the above drink recipe, but any grated dark chocolate flakes will do.
The Waiting Game
A truth about me: I am an impatient cook. The longer I’m told to let something simmer or mix or sear, the more I want to fiddle and fidget with it. Like a child, I stare at these things, internally repeating “Is it done yet??” in my brain as I watch and wait, fretting that if my eyes wander for a moment something irreparable might happen.
To be fair, its not an unfounded fear. Distraction has ruined more than one batch of jam (and one Le Creuset dutch oven) as it sat forgotten on the stove top, burning the contents. One time, my stand mixer even jumped off its perch on the counter while kneading a particularly stubborn ball of bread dough (the stalwart machine luckily landed on the recycling bin and was left unscathed). I’ve finally started allowing myself to leave the kitchen during these wait periods, setting kitchen timers for 5 or 10 minutes so I remember to check in occasionally. This, I must say, has helped tremendously.
The Art of Meringue
Meringue is one of those things you really cannot cheat when it comes to time. You need to mix until stiff peaks form in the egg whites, and you have to add the sugar slowly and deliberately, lest you lose all that air you’ve worked into the eggs and the whole mixture deflates. At that point, it’s lost. You have to start again from scratch.
Using a stand mixer is the easiest way. I put my egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl and let the whisk attachment do its work. Setting a timer, I check on it every 5 minutes until its almost there, and then stick by it once it starts forming soft peaks so that I can catch it when the peaks stiffen.
From there, a tablespoon of sugar. That’s it. Then whisk whisk whisk until the stiff peaks form again. Then another tablespoon. And another. Maybe two tablespoons this time, but carefully. Repeat again and again until all the sugar is incorporated.
You’ll know its ready, because those fluffy white peaks take on a glossy, candy-like shimmer. I have to say, its one of the most satisfying textures I can ever see in a food, next to a perfectly light crumb on a layer cake or the golden crust of homemade bread straight on the oven.
It’s process. And it can be painstaking. But trust me, its worth it.
Mocha Meringue Cookies
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip up the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until stiff peaks begin to form (this can take up to 10 minutes). This is important – do not rush this! I literally have to leave the kitchen and occupy myself with something else so that I don’t overthink this part and stop it too early. Do some dishes. Play a phone game. Cuddle a furbaby. Seriously, set a timer and walk away (just make sure your mixer is safely situated to leave unattended).
When stiff peaks have begun to form, reduce the speed and gently add one tablespoon of sugar to the mixture. Whip this back up to stiff peaks. Gradually repeat this process with the remaining sugar, adding one or two tablespoons of sugar at a time until the peaks are nice and glossy. You may need to stop once or twice in this process to scrap up any unincorporated sugar from the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
Whip in the espresso powder, and then fold in the chocolate with the spatula.
Transfer the meringue mixture to a pastry bag and pipe out the meringue on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the heat, leave the oven door closed, and let the meringue sit as the oven cools for 2-3 hours (or overnight).
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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