Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Food Desert Project: Chocolate Orange Meringues

I know, I know - Valentine's Day was yesterday.  Still, it's nice to have a sweet and not-so-bad-for-you treat in the bag, so I thought I'd post this today - for all of you who might be a day late and a dollar short.

We love meringues in our family, Sparky in particular.  These meringues combine techniques from a couple of recipes, one of which allows you to flavor the meringue itself with fruit juice, and the other brings a hit of chocolate.  These are made with the Italian meringue technique, where a hot syrup is used to sweeten and lightly cook the egg whites, if raw eggs make you nervous.  Meringues don't like wet, humid weather - so you may want to wait for a dry day to try this recipe.


4 egg whites
1/4 cup 100% juice concentrate (we used orange, use what you like, frozen or canned)
3/4 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar)

Bittersweet chocolate chips

First, put your egg whites into your mixer (It will be helpful to have your mixer near the stove.)  You will either need a hands-free mixer, or someone with a steady hand to help you with this recipe.  Whip them until they are airy, white and well mixed but don't hold peaks.

027Pour the sugar and the juice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and heat it until it starts to bubble and foam - if you have a candy thermometer, continue heating to 238 - 240 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test your mixture by dropping a bit in cold water; it should form a soft ball when rolled between your fingers.)  Take your pan off the heat.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, or the lowest setting possible.

029Turn on your mixer to medium speed, and as the egg whites whip, drizzle in about 2 tbsp of the hot syrup.  Continue adding the syrup in small, thin drizzles, simultaneously warming the egg whites and cooling the syrup, until all the syrup is incorporated and mix until your egg whites are firm and glossy.

Arrange your chocolate chips on two parchment-lined baking sheets (meringues don't expand, so you can arrange them as close as is comfortable for you; probably about 2" space between chocolate chips) and scoop your meringue into a piping bag.  (If you don't have a piping bag, a regular zip-top bag with the corner cut off works just as well.)

032Pipe the meringue directly on top of the chocolate chips, covering them completely in blobs (or heart shapes, as I did, you can see in the first picture where I didn't cover one completely) about an inch in diameter and a half-inch or so tall.  Place the cookie sheets in the oven, and turn it off.  Bake the meringues for about 2 1/2 hours until crisp, rotating the cookie sheets and turning the oven back on to its lowest setting every half hour (turn it off once it comes up to temp.)  Open the oven door slightly and allow the meringues to cool thoroughly inside the oven (this may take an hour or more.)

Remove from the parchment and enjoy!  Eat fast, or store in a tightly sealed container, away from moisture (these get gooey quickly on a damp day.)


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