Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chunky Chocolate Coconut Almond Meringues are Not Just for Passover

I hate to limit anything delicious to a specific audience.  I’m afraid that if I label any cookie or dessert “for Passover” or “Gluten Free” people who don’t know from Passover or do not suffer from gluten insensitivity will just turn the page. Meanwhile, even though I normally prefer all kinds of bitter and tart flavors, like super dark chocolate, expresso, pungent olive oil, sour pickles and so forth, I adore meringues and just can't get enough of them. Go figure.  

When you add flakes of coconut, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, salted almonds, and nuggets of creamy coconut white chocolate to melt-in-your-mouth meringues, every bite becomes a riot of creamy with crunchy and chewy, and sweet with salty. These cookies are crazy good (addictive really) just as they are, or you can make them into pretty individual desserts by piling on a little whipped cream and fresh strawberries.  


Makes 45-50 cookies.

1 cup (145) roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped
4 ounces (115 grams) 70% chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger), cut into chunks or 2/3 cup purchased chocolate chunks or chips
3/4 cup (30 grams) unsweetened flaked coconut (coconut chips)
2 ounces (60 grams) Coconut White Chocolate (Lindt), cut into 1/3-inch squares
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) sugar
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

For the topping, set aside and toss together 1/4 of the almonds, 1/4 of the dark chocolate, and 1/4 of the flaked coconut.

Mix the remaining almonds, chocolate, and coconut with the coconut white chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Set aside.

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean dry bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer (or high speed with a hand mixer) 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 and have a dull sheen. Use a large rubber spatula to fold in the mixture of nuts, coconut, both chocolates, and sugar, just until blended.

Drop generous tablespoons of meringue 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.  Make sure all of the batter fits on the two sheets so all can be baked at once; if necessary make each cookie a little bigger. Sprinkle each meringue with a little pinch of reserved topping. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.  Remove a test meringue and let it cool completely before taking a bite (meringues are never crisp when hot). If the test meringue is completely dry and crisp, turn off the oven and let the remaining meringues cool completely in the oven.  If the test meringue is soft or chewy or sticks to your teeth, bake for another 15 to 30 minutes before cooling in the oven.

To prevent cookies from becoming moist and sticky, put them in an airtight container as soon as they are cool.  Cookies keep for at least 2 weeks.