Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Meringues
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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes
Chocolate and hazelnuts are a classic pairing in Italy, where you will see blocks of chocolate studded with the nuts in every shop and chocolate-hazelnut gelato sold in every gelateria. Here the combo puts a decidedly Italian spin on light, airy meringues.
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- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) superfine sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (6 oz./185 g) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
- 5 oz. (155 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
Directions:Position 2 racks in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 275°F (135°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until foamy. Sprinkle in the salt. Raise the speed to high and beat in the sugar, 1 Tbs. at a time. Beat in the vanilla. At this point, the egg whites should hold stiff, glossy peaks that curl at the tips. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the hazelnuts.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets. (If you want more uniformly shaped meringues, spoon the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe it onto the parchment-lined pans.)
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the edges of the meringues are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven for 30 minutes without opening the oven door. Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Using a spatula, gently transfer the meringues to wire racks to cool completely. Reserve the parchment-lined baking sheets; you will use them after you dip the meringues in chocolate.
Put the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and set over (but not touching) barely simmering water. Heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the oil. Remove from the heat.
Carefully pick up a meringue and dip the bottom into the hot chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Set the meringue, chocolate side down, on a reserved parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip the remaining meringues into the chocolate in the same way. Place in the freezer until the chocolate sets, about 5 minutes. Store the meringues in airtight containers, using a sheet of parchment paper to separate the layers, at room temperature for up to 1 week. Makes about 40 cookies.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011)