Meringue creates a lighter take on holiday cookies
Even if you avoid baking all year long, there's a very good chance the allure of the holidays will seduce you into having a go at a batch of cookies.
And why not? It's sweet food for a sweet season. Of course, the cookie season can be hazardous to your waistline. If possible, it's best to keep in mind Julia Child's motto: Everything in moderation. Go ahead and savor those cookies, just don't be a monster about it.
Of course, if you do happen to overdo it, you'll be better off if you snub the usual dough boys in favor of a lean and luscious gem like these chocolate-dipped meringue drops.
Each one is like a candy bar in a cookie suit. The hero of this story? Egg whites. They bind the other ingredients — the coconut and dried cranberries — and provide a nice chewy texture, all without adding any fat. Yes, there's fat in the coconut and the chocolate, but the overall fat and calorie content is lower here than in butter-based cookies.
This is one of those recipes for which the fresher the egg, the better. Fresh egg whites boast more body than older ones, adding greater volume and stability to your cookies. The whites and yolks should be separated when the eggs are cold. But wait until the whites reach room temperature before beating them.
Though many of us separate egg whites from yolks using the cracked egg shell halves as little cups, it's safer to employ those even more basic tools — your hands. Your hands, unlike those egg shells, don't have sharp edges, which dramatically reduces the possibility of breaking the yokes. The quickest way to warm your whites to room temperature is to put them in a clean bowl, then put that bowl into a larger bowl of hot water.
If you don't already own an oven thermometer, you might consider getting one. These cookies need to be baked at 275 degrees, and some ovens just don't work well at such a low temp. Though my own oven needed to be fiddled with again and again, my thermometer kept the job on track.
By the way, those of you who regularly bake meringues as white as snow should know that this isn't that type of meringue. It is meant to be beige and chewy, not white and crispy. Likewise, the note of tangy bitterness provided by the dark chocolate is meant to offset this confection's overall sweetness. The proof, of course, is in the cookie. My daughter, who is no fan of coconut, dogged these chocolate-dipped meringue drops.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Meringue Drops
Start to finish: 55 minutes (30 minutes active)
Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries until finely chopped. Set aside.
Spread the coconut on a third baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake on the oven's middle shelf until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven to 275 degrees.
When the coconut has cooled, in a medium-size bowl combine it with the cranberries.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the coconut-cranberry mixture. Drop rounded tablespoons of the batter, 1 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meringue drops are beige (they will be soft at the center). Put the sheet pans on cooling racks and let the meringue drops cool completely.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Set a larger stainless bowl over the saucepan, then add the chocolate. Heat the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until melted. One at a time, dip the bottoms of the cookies into the chocolate, then set chocolate side up on parchment to cool. To set the chocolate faster, the cookies can be refrigerated.
Store the cookies in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Makes 5 dozen.
Nutrition information per cookie: 50 calories (25 calories from fat), 3 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 0 cholesterol, 1 gram protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 10 milligrams sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers are banking on linebackers to improve strength of defense
- Republican businesswoman Fiorina to join 2016 presidential fray
- Nonprofit dentistry back in Wilkinsburg
- Western Pennsylvania mobilizes to aid Nepal in earthquake recovery
- LaBar: Looking at next big Diva star for WWE
- Pitt coach Narduzzi goes home for induction into Youngstown coaches hall of fame
- Uptown neighborhood in Pittsburgh on verge of breakthrough
- Pirates suffer 3rd straight walk-off loss in St. Louis in 14 innings
- Medical personnel have plenty to do at Pittsburgh Marathon
- Kaboly: Steelers fill biggest needs by drafting defensive players
- Rivals make Allegheny County controller race about competence