Me: I don’t like meringues. It’s like eating air.
Nancy: It’s like eating sugared air. And what’s wrong with that?
OK, so maybe Nancy does have a point. But I’ve still never been a big fan of meringues. However, I knew if anyone could change my mind, it would be Nick Malgieri. Besides, these meringues were up next in the Modern Baker Challenge, so I was going to make them, like it or not.
Most meringues I’ve tried in the past seemed to be nothing more than egg whites and sugar, so I was intrigued by the addition of chocolate, espresso powder, and walnuts to this recipe. And the variation with walnuts and cinnamon sounded interesting, too. Given my overall skepticism, I decided to make a full batch of meringues, but divide the meringue in half so I could make a smaller batch of each kind to try.
I began by whipping egg whites and salt in the mixer.
I added half the sugar, a little at a time, while the egg whites were whipping. By the way, if you happen to have the hardback edition of The Modern Baker and are wondering what you’re supposed to do with the remaining sugar, the answer can be found in the paperback edition of the book. The rest of the sugar gets layered in with the remaining ingredients below.
Once the egg whites had reached meringue consistency, I removed the bowl from the mixer and divided the meringue between two bowls.
The bowl on the left contains walnuts, the rest of the sugar, espresso powder, bittersweet chocolate, and cornstarch. The bowl on the right has walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. I folded the ingredients in gently, trying not the break the meringue.
I spooned the meringues in mounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I forgot to take a picture before I put them in the oven, so I opened the oven door and took a quick snap.
The meringues baked at 300°F for about 30 minutes, until they were fairly dry. This surprised me, as most other recipes I’ve seen call for baking the meringues for 2-3 hours, and some instruct to leave the meringues in the oven overnight to finish drying.
The picture above is of the espresso meringues. The one below shows the cinnamon meringues.
The meringues smelled really good baking, and I was anxious to try them to see if they would change my mind. And they almost did. They were both quite flavorful. The cinnamon meringues had a wonderful, spicy aroma. And the chocolate in the espresso meringues made them quite tasty.
The only thing I didn’t really care for was the mouth feel after eating a few of them. I didn’t notice it at first, but after a while, my mouth felt really dry, and the meringues left a powdery aftertaste. I think it was from the cornstarch. Eating them with a cup of tea or coffee remedied this for the most part, but I just don’t care for that taste and feeling in my mouth. I have since looked at several other meringue recipes, and none of them seem to call for cornstarch.
If I make these again, I’ll try leaving the cornstarch out, as I really did like the flavor of both of them. I think they might need to bake longer without the cornstarch, as I suspect that is what shortens the baking time in this recipe compared to others.
It might be worth trying. They were mighty tasty.
OK, Nancy, maybe I see the point of sugared air after all.