well, for anyone with a sweet tooth, that is.
after biting into the first of these little clouds of sugary goodness, you automatically find yourself reaching for a second, a third, even a fourth and G-d forbid ..... a fifth (stuffing it in your mouth while no one is looking, of course).
in my books, there's nothing more perfect than the meringue. i have to say, i have a preference for the fully baked ones, like the meringue schalen my parents would make from two decoratively piped perfect meringues, with their insides pushed in to allow for that perfect center of vanilla whipped creme chantilly that can only be achieved by means of emulsification through a cartridge. well, sort of ..... it can still be whipped up either by hand or a mixer but somehow the texture never seems to be the same.
the following recipe is for those crunchy but melt-in-your-mouth type of meringues. they can be made plain, with nuts and chocolate chips or either of those two combinations. it all depends on how you like them. these days, not everyone can eat nuts due to allergies so these are perfect for those who are allergic to nuts or on a gluten free diet.
the basic ratio for these particular meringues is as follows (classically, there are 3 different types with different ratios and methods for making meringues):
1 egg white : 1/4 c sugar : scant 1/8 tsp cream of tartar/white vinegar : 1/4 tsp vanilla : 2 -4 tbsp nuts/choc chips
increase accordingly. never exceed 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar per egg white. it will result in a sour and off-tasting finished baked good.
the three most important things to remember when making these are making sure your eggs are at room temperature, slowly mixing in the sugar and a long, low temperature baking (time). follow these directions and you'll be rewarded with irresistible little clouds of sugary goodness.
always a crowd pleaser, these little snow white mounds are studded with pecans and chocolate morsels and melt in the mouth. secret to their success is long slow baking which dries them without browning them. you'll undoubtedly steal one or two from the oven along the way, "to check on them". keep a steady supply of these around and you'll be everyone's friend :)
makes 20 + some, depending on size
3 egg whites at room temperature
a little less than 3/8 tsp cream of tartar*
¾ c white sugar (the finer the better)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c chopped pecans (or other nuts)
½ - 2/3 c chocolate chips
*while cream of tartar is not absolutely essential it is highly recommended to stop sugar seepage which can occur. it also helps stabilize the egg whites tremendously. i've made them without the cream of tartar several times however it is my preference and recommendation to include it for the best meringues. as it is an acid, you can also substitute white vinegar with similar results.
measure out your chocolate chips and coarsely chop the nuts you are using and set them aside for later.
in your bowl, place the egg whites and salt.
beat them until they are frothy for about 30 to 45 seconds only.
add the cream of tartar and vanilla and beat again, this time for about 2 minutes until the mixture starts to look like meringue.
start to add the sugar in 1/4 c but make sure to add it in 3 additions per 1/4 cup. the sugar must be completely worked into the meringues for a good final product. this is why using fine sugar is preferable though not absolutely necessary.
after the first 1/4 c of sugar, the texture should be quite soft.
continue adding the sugar until it is all used up and the texture has thickened. it will be snow white and quite thick.
you will know it is done when there are no sugar granules visible and you see marks such as in the photo here:
you will be able to make peaks which hold.
add your nuts and chocolate and mix together well with your spatula, lifting from the bottom.
preheat your oven to 275F.
on a parchment lined sheet, take a tablespoon and drop the batter carefully leaving at least and inch between each meringue. you may need another spoon or your finger. they shouldn't be smooth. little wisps of meringue will top each of them.
bake for only 25 minutes @ 275F and then lower the temperature to 150F. leave the meringues to dry out for at least 7 to 8 hours. turn the heat off and leave them in the oven until the oven is cold. it helps to use your timer setting on the oven to automatically turn off after the second cooking period.
it is best to make these during the evening and let them go until early morning turning off the oven when you're up. make sure to set the alarm clock!
they should be slightly off white once baked and cracked in several places.
keep these well covered as humidity destroys them.