Chocolate Chunks! Walnuts! Light, airy crispiness that melts in your mouth! These cookies are one of my Grammie's favorites and I've been making them for years. Whether you're eating gluten-free, looking for something new to serve for Passover, figuring out what to do with leftover egg whites or just adore meringues, you are definitely going to want to give these a try!
Some people are firmly in the meringue loving camp--others find them too sweet. I am not a huge meringue lover but I do find these yummy because of the addition of the bittersweet chocolate and walnuts which serve to balance out the sweetness. These cookies are easy to make but call for long slow baking so don't start them at 9:00 at night or you'll be up way past midnight! You start by chopping up a generous portion of walnuts and chocolate.
The way you compensate for the lack of flour or any traditional leavening agent is by beating an incredible amount of air into the egg whites. Here you beat them for a total of almost 20 minutes, adding salt, cream of tartar, vanilla and sugar in the process, until they are unyieldingly stiff. They shouldn't budge at all when you lift up your beater!!
Next you simply fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks and drop spoonfuls of the batter onto cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil, making interesting swirly shapes as you go.
The cookies then bake at 225ºF for 2 hours and sit for an additional hour in the oven with the heat turned off to cool and dry out even further. The interiors of the cookies are filled with airy craters that house all those chopped walnuts and chocolate. So irresistible! Bet you can't just eat one!!
Meringues with Walnuts and Chocolate
Makes 24 large cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes: Bake Time: 2 hours (plus an additional hour of cooling inside oven)
- 3/4 cup ( 2 1/2 ounces) walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3-4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 4 egg whites from large eggs (measuring about 1/2 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
1. Divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 225ºF. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Place the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. If you have a stand mixer, attach the whisk attachment. If you're using a hand held mixer, it's ok--just use regular beaters. Beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes until mixture is foamy and holds a soft point when you lift the beater. Then continue to beat on medium speed but start to add 1 rounded tablespoonful of the sugar at 30 second intervals. When all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and beat for another 5-7 minutes until the meringue is very stiff and and sugar is completely dissolved. If you rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers, you shouldn't be able to feel any graininess. Total mixing time should be 15-18 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the walnuts and chocolates.
3. You want the cookies to be large so use a heaping tablespoon of the meringue for each cookie, using one spoon to pick up the mixture and another for pushing the cookie onto the prepared baking tray. The cookies don't spread much but try to place them about 1 inch apart. Feel free to make fancy swirls and peaks--the more the better.
4. Bake for 2 hours, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back after the first hour of baking. Once the time is up-do not open the oven door. Turn off the heat and let the meringues stay in the oven for another hour until they are completely dry. Remove from the oven and peel cookies off the aluminum foil. Transfer to an airtight container--cookies will get soggy if left out for any length of time.
5. I'm told that these will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for several weeks, but I've never officially seen that happen.
Note: Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever.