The recipe uses cocoa nibs, which comes in either gritty or chunky form (my terms. not theirs.). I went with gritty since that's all that was available at my local crunchy-granola food store. Now: warning. Cocoa nibs are expensive ($9/8 oz), so you may be tempted to buy them on Amazon in advance to save money. Please don't; the savings is only two dollars and you really should support your town's economy and buy them locally. Buying locally (usually) means processed locally, and you're keeping all that nice money right in your area. *rant over*
Bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped into mini-chocolate-chip-sized pieces. I doubled the recipe and used an entire 10 oz. bag, which cost about $3.69. Yes, these cookies aren't exactly cheap, but they're worth it.
I was frightened by the fact that I was making a dessert that featured "soft peaks" forming. What the heck is a soft peak? Sounds like the Himalayas in springtime if you ask me.
However, the egg whites whipped right up in about five minutes (see recipe) and I finally dispelled the mental picture of melting mountains for what soft peaks really look like.
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-75% cacao) divided
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process) sifted after measuring if lumpy
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/3 cup egg whites (about 3 large) at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar divided (use 1 1/2 teaspoons less if cocoa nibs are omitted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray.
2. Coarsely chop 3 ounces of chocolate and place it in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then continue microwaving, stirring every 20 seconds, until mostly melted. Stir until the remaining chocolate melts completely.
3. Chop the remaining 2 ounces chocolate into pieces the size of mini chocolate chips. Combine in a small bowl with cocoa and cocoa nibs (if using).
4. Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed until soft peaks start to form. It takes a while. Immediately add about 2 tablespoons sugar; beat for 1 minute. Slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, add the remaining sugar, then vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, opaque, glossy and thickened, about 2 minutes longer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, raise the speed to high, and beat for 30 seconds more. Lightly fold in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and the melted chocolate just until evenly incorporated and no streaks remain; do not overmix. Immediately drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake the cookies, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until just firm when gently pressed on top but still soft inside, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Then slide the paper from the pans to a flat surface and let the cookies cool completely, about 15 minutes. Gently lift the cookies from the parchment paper using a wide-bladed spatula.
6. Beat your chocoholic mother off with a stick when you attempt to take said cookies to a Mardi Gras party with your French class.
My Suggestions (since "tips" sounds like I know what I'm talking about, and I certainly don't):
- Don't let too much time elapse between when you melt the chocolate and when you've adequately fluffed the meringue. I had to wait for an egg, and the chocolate hardened up a tad, so it made the final mix much tougher than it should have been.
- Preheat your oven. Preheat your oven. Preheat your oven.
- Don't use a cookie-squeezer-pump-thing. It'll squish the air out of the cookies - and the whole point of a meringue cookie is that it's light, fluffy, and entirely consisting of crusty baked chocolate bubbles