January 22, 2010
Mexican Hot Chocolate Meringues
Ruby and I were invited to our friends' apartment for Shabbat lunch. Proper etiquette in this situation is to offer to bring something. But me being my big-headed "culinarily-skilled" self, I responded with: "What can we bring? I cook, so if you want me to actually make or bake something, I'd be glad to." I was then asked to bake something, and it had to be Parve, because we would be having meat at lunch. This presented a challenge. Observant Jews are cursed with a whole variety of nasty desserts made with non-dairy substitutes. I was not going to make one of these, I was having a classy food week (Jeff and I made Orange-Rosemary Shortbread on our day off and I made Roasted Greens Panzanella for dinner one night); plus, there is no reason for it when the lovely dairy-free option of meringues exists. I decided on meringues and then as I was falling asleep the night before I was due to make them, the idea of flavoring them in the spirit of Mexican Hot Chocolate dawned on me, and in my deliriously tired state I thought it was quite genius; I still think it's a pretty good idea. After 2 failed attempts yielding sticky meringues, I sought baking counseling and put in a last ditch effort. I am SO happy I tried it again because they came out melt-in-your-mouth perfectly.
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
half a capfull white or cider vinegar
3-4 dashes hot sauce
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
demerara/turbinado sugar "in the raw"
Preheat oven to ~250 degrees F.
Beat egg whites on low speed (most recipes say it's best when they are at room temperature) until just before they form soft peaks. Add salt, vinegar (or cream of tartar), hot sauce and vanilla, then continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar in at least 2 increments so that it has time to dissolve. Turn up mixer speed and beat until mixture is glossy and forming stiff peaks. Add in cocoa powder and cinnamon and beat on high for one minute. Any movement made in the batter at this point should leave a track.
Transfer mixture into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with a cut corner. Pipe small meringue dots onto a lined baking sheet. I used a reusable baking sheet liner, I have no idea what it is or what it's made of (it's definitely not parchment or silicone), but I credit it and my friend Jeff with the success of the third try on this recipe.
Sprinkle each dot with some sugar in the raw. And place the sheet in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours turn the oven off and let the meringues continue to cool and dry in the oven with the door closed for at least another hour.
Because I took a picture of it, this is what my Panzanella looked like. I followed Giada's recipe for the most part, but we know I'm not a fan of exact measurements. I hit it with some grated Parmesan and served it with "fried" eggs which was the perfect companion.