My relationship with meringue goes a few decades back. I hate that I can say decades and it’s accurate.
I first tried meringues in the traditional lemon meringue pie. I thought it was just the most beautiful cloud of sweetness. One evening when I was in 5th grade — circa 1989 (?), I decided I should surprise my mom when she came home from work with a lemon meringue pie. Don’t ask me why but I got it into my head.
Mom worked evenings at the library from 6 to 9 which honestly felt like an eternity for us, especially when we were in elementary school. Somehow I managed to gather all the ingredients and successfully followed the recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook, so I could present Mom with the surprise she she made it home. No, there was no pie crust involved — a frozen, pre-made pie crust was a staple in those days. And, it wasn’t that we had fresh lemons around, but the liquid lemon juice in the faux lemon plastic containers magically had enough. I’m actually most surprised that I was able to successfully whip the meringue as it requires a patience, that is tested to this day, with a hand mixer. There is no Kitchenaid in the Clevering household. But, it was a success, and I think Mom was surprised.
We did attempt several things in the kitchen while Mom was working and under Dad’s “supervision.” I remember Sara attempting to made fudge even though we didn’t have the fail safe- marshmallow creme. She was reading the directions in Betty Crocker about how to test the temperature of the boiling sugar. In the end, fudge was never made, and the pan was barely salvageable.
But, the next foray with meringues came in college. I was in love with the Moosewood’s Low-Fat favorite’s cookbook. I was transitioning into vegetarian food and it was the “fear of fat” craze of the late nineties. One of the recipes was for bake meringue cups fills with fruit. I was having to much fun shaping the meringues via the plastic bag/frosting decorating technique that I never tried it with the fruit. I just cared that it was “low fat.”
With that history, I was naturally intrigued by this meringue recipe. It just might be the ONLY recipe in the cookbook that doesn’t contain flour — hey it’s GLUTEN-FREE! But, this cookie was much more than I anticipated. I wasn’t that excited for a chocolate flavored crunch of a cookie, but this is not your average meringue. I was baffled why we were “folding” in the walnut and the sliced chocolate but the result was exceptional. The center of the meringue were delicious bites of chocolate and the walnuts gave it an extra weight. Delicious!
My meringues were on the soft side – probably because they were so big, but I almost liked them that way. I baked them for 35 minutes, an extra 5 and was concerned about them being too dry anyway.
** also note that the directions list “remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts and sugar” which is a bit confusing because “the remaining 1/2” modifies sugar and not the walnuts. I reread the recipe a few times to make sure I hadn’t skipped a step, but you do fold in the entire 1 1/4 cup of walnuts all at once.
The egg whites are always a challenge. I followed the best directions and separated each yolk separately before adding to the mixing bowl. It’s a good thing too because the second egg was a mess.
And folding in the ingredients. It felt odd to layer it as directed but Nick knows what he’s talking about!
And, the final product – forgive the blurriness. We’ll see how the folks at work like them. They got a thumbs up from Paul who doesn’t typically think meringues count for much of anything.