As a student backpacking through Europe, I had my first taste of real French meringue. I was hooked. Today, shops like Paris’ Aux Merveilleux dedicate entire menus to sophisticated meringues. Yet here in the US, these airy egg white-based cookies remain mostly plain and dry by comparison.
Enter these chocolate toffee nut cookies, which are guaranteed to change your mind about meringue. It’s my contribution to this year’s Great Blogger Cookie Swap 2013. Meringues packed with high-quality chocolate, toffee bits and toasted nuts that will win over all the cookie sophisticates in your life. Crunchy, sweet and decadent, these are super easy to throw together and will impress even the biggest holiday cookie critic.
Chocolate Toffee Nut Meringues
Makes approximately 4-5 dozen cookies
1 cup salted, toasted nuts, roughly chopped (hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc.)
1 ½ cups high-quality chocolate chips (such as Ghiradelli bittersweet or milk chocolate)
1 cup toffee bits (such as Heath Bits 'o Brickle Toffee Bits. For a chewier cookie, try Kraft caramels, finely chopped)
¾ cup sugar
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Combine the chocolate, nuts and toffee, reserving a 1/3 cup of the mixture for topping.
Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean dry bowl. Beat at medium-high speed until the egg whites are creamy white (instead of translucent) and hold a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Continue to beat on medium to high speed, adding the sugar a little at a time, taking 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in all, until the egg whites are very stiff. Gently fold in the chocolate-nut-toffee mixture.
Drop generous tablespoons of meringue 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. Top each meringue with some of the reserved topping. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the meringues begin to turn golden. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from back to front. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake for another 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in it to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before using or storing. Will keep in an airtight container for at least 2 months.