Crispy Malted Bitter Chocolate Meringues
Crispy meringues, sweetened with the dark, round flavor of malt and accented with shaved bitter chocolate, make a perfect sweet ending for a meal. These cookies are a dressed-up, flavorful version of those addictive milk chocolate-coated maltballs that I ate as a kid. The milk chocolate coating is optional. The meringues are light and delicious on their own.
Make sure you make these cookies on a cool, dry day. Meringues are packed with sugar, which absorbs humidity. If you do follow the optional step and dip these cookies in tempered milk chocolate, they will keep for weeks, stored in a cool, dry place. The cocoa butter in the chocolate acts as a humidity barrier, preserving the crisp, aerated meringue.
Storage: Keep these meringues sealed at room temperature in a dry environment.
A French meringue and egg white foams:
Egg whites, in their fresh translucent state, consist largely of proteins suspended in liquid (mostly water). In the process of making a French meringue or any egg white foam, some proteins are coaxed (denatured) out of their yarn-ball shape through agitation, exposure to warmer temperatures, and added acid, and stretched into strands that eventually link together (a process called coagulation) and absorb water, forming a scaffolding that traps air pockets.
If this scaffolding of proteins is overagitated, more and more proteins coagulate, leaving no room to hold liquid. Water leaches out of the gel and the foam begins to collapse. You can see this if you notice small beads of egg whites forming around the edges of your bowl. If egg whites are whipped further after these early signs they become chunky, uneven, wet, and very difficult to incorporate into mousses, souffles, or cake batters.
Sugar gets in the way of protein strands and prevents early coagulation. In a French meringue the continued addition of sugar allows the egg whites to be beaten for a very long period of time, encouraging the incorporation of more and more air into the protein strands holding liquid. In addition, sugar dissolves in water, making the liquid in an egg white foam more viscous and enabling a stronger foam to exist, which can last longer.
Making and baking a French meringue:
Use room-temperature egg whites when making a meringue. Make sure the egg whites are fully frothed before you add your cream of tartar or acid. Whip the acid into the egg whites for at least 1 minute until the whites foam and hold the lines of a whisk for 20 seconds. Begin adding your sugar slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you see egg whites beading or curdling on the side of the bowl, slow the machine down and add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time.
A French meringue is done when all the sugar is incorporated and the egg white foam is shiny, smooth (not grainy). Opaque white and has gained around 10 times its volume. Stop the machine, detach the whisk, and try moving the whisk around in the meringue with your hand. The meringue should feel stiff and dense.
Bake the meringues in a low oven (200°F to 225°F) for approximately 2 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the meringues. Through baking you are slowly drawing the moisture out of the egg white foam, leaving sugar to help stabilize it. This moisture must evaporate and escape the oven for the meringues to dry out and hold their shape. Gas ovens are vented. If you are using an electric oven, leave the door slightly ajar as you bake and dry out your meringues.
Do not allow your meringues to brown browning is a sign that the oven is too hot. If you notice your meringues expanding 5 minutes after you have placed them in the oven, turn the heat down. You do not want to heat the air trapped in the egg white foam so much that it expands and causes the protein webs to collapse, leaving your meringue cookies shrunk and shriveled.
Too high an oven temperature also causes proteins to squeeze out the water bound in the foam faster than the rate at which the water would evaporate. These water beads can caramelize on the outside of the meringue, leaving a yellow-brown dotted coloring on the outside of the finished meringue cookies.
70 piped mini domes or 30 large hand-shaped cookies
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursedessert, snack
Dietary Considerationdessert, snack
Mealdinner, snack, tea
Taste and Texturechewy, chocolatey, crisp, light
Type of Dishchocolate dessert, dessert
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 7 egg whites (approximately 1 cup), at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (or ½ teaspoon lemon juice)
- ½ cup confectionary sugar
- ¼ cup barley malt syrup or ice cream shop malt syrup
- Stand mixer
- Piping bag, fitted with a 9/16-inchdiameter round tip (#7), optional
- Cookie sheets
Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or use nonstick pans.
Prepare the chocolate and sugar mixture:
Chop the unsweetened chocolate very fine by hand and combine it with ¼ cup of the granulated sugar.
Make the meringue (see "A French meringue and egg white foams" in the Notes section, below):
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy and no longer liquid. Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking on medium-high speed for 1 to 1½ minutes after each addition. The whites will continually increase in volume, shine, and whiteness (at least 15 minutes of whisking is required). Add the confectionary sugar in 3 additions, whisking for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the barley malt syrup and whisk on slow speed for 1 minute.
Fold in the chocolate:
Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a spatula, fold in the chocolate and sugar mixture. To fold in ingredients, place the spatula in the center of the bowl, scrape the bottom, and bring the bottom over the top. Rotate the bowl 45 degrees and repeat this motion. Continue folding the mixture until the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the meringue.
Shape the meringues:
Simple, free-form meringues:
For a lovely, free-form meringue, use the tip of a rubber spatula to scoop up about 3 tablespoons of meringue and quickly flick it onto the cookie sheet, allowing 1 inch between meringues.
For a more finished, uniform-looking meringue, scrape half of the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 9/16-inch-diameter round tip and the top fo lded back in a 4-inch cuff Unfold the cuff and twist the top of the bag closed, pushing and squeezing the meringue down toward the tip. Hold the bag upright, about 1 inch above the parchment paper, and gently squeeze, raising the bag as you squeeze a small dome of meringue 1 inch in diameter and 1½ inches high onto the cookie sheet, allowing 1 inch between the meringues.
Bake the meringues (see "Making and baking a French meringue in the Notes section, below):
Bake the meringues for 45 minutes, rotating the pans multiple times. If the meringues are rapidly coloring, turn off the oven. After 45 minutes, turn down the oven to 200°F and bake for another 1½ hours, continuing to rotate the trays. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to remain in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the meringues from the oven and allow them to cool completely. They should be hard and crisp once they have cooled.
Serving Suggestions: Serve these sweet crispy confections as an afternoon snack.
Milk Chocolate-Coated Malted Meringues: (See the Note on tempered chocolate.) Temper 8 ounces of milk chocolate according to the instructions. Using a fork with long tines or a chocolate dipping two pronged tool, dip each meringue one at a time in the bowl of tempered chocolate, flipping it over and coating evenly. Remove the meringue with the fork, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Place the dipped meringues on a sheet of parchment paper and allow the chocolate coating to set.
2006 Kate Zuckerman