We're calling 2010 "The Year of No Summer" around the office. It's been warmer on Mars this week than in Portland. Despite the constant sunshine that weather forecasts promise, the sky's always covered in rumply clouds. I don't believe meteorologists in Portland know how to read their radar. They're just nice men in dark suits!
Oh well. I'm adjusting to the darkness and gloom, wearing it like a long duster coat. I'm using the cloudy light to work on my photography. The folks at Action Fast Photo provide me with encouragement, film, and good cheer. My photos are softly lit and murky. Aloof and mysterious, they move within the dark underbelly of photo processing.
Take these meringues, for example.
They're not pink, puffy pavlovas sold in French pâtisseries. They're meringues noir. Dark, untrustworthy. A slick, crispy exterior gives way to a chewy and mysterious middle--punctuated by dots of bitter cocoa. They're best eaten in haunted amusement parks, on leaf-littered stoops, or with black Stumptown brew in the Shanghai tunnels downtown. They'll lurk in dark corners of the seedy café* near my home, with ne'er-do-well short stories.
I make these meringues in two varieties: evil and supremely evil, based on the amount of cocoa powder in the batch. Evil meringues contain a hefty tablespoon of cocoa, have a glossy finish and a crispy bite. Supremely evil meringues have twice the cocoa punch--so much that the cocoa threatens to break the sugary-hard meringue shell. You'll sacrifice a bit of strength for intense flavor if you choose the supremely evil route.
Meringues noir are tough enough to stand alone, but they also camp indiscriminately with coffee, tea, fresh berries, and smashed into ice creams and yogurts. And speaking of camping, the next time you make s'mores, bringing these meringues along instead of marshmallows. Their intense flavor will darken your campfire tales.
adapted from petites meringues at C & Z
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup + 2 Tb. turbinado sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-2 heaping tablespoon(s) cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup raw cocoa nibs
Whisk egg whites in a clean bowl (one with no traces of fat lingering) until soft peaks form. Whisk continuously as you add sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure each spoonful of sugar is incorporated fully before adding more. Once the mixture is firm and glossy, whisk in the vanilla and the cocoa powder at a lower speed. Use a spatula to stir in the cocoa nibs.
Using two spoons, plop ping pong- to golf ball-sized globs of meringue on a the baking sheets. The meringues will almost double in width while baking, so don't crowd them on the sheet.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to attain soft-centered meringues, or 1 hour for crunchy ones. Let them cool completely, then munch away. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
Vanilla mint French meringues
Chocolate champagne truffles
Dark chocolate cookies with espresso
*There's a mysterious café near my home that I can't help but call shady It's hours wildly fluctuate (regardless of the hours posted at the door.) When it is open, it's populated with intense, solemn men--only ever men--who smoke cigarettes. They speak in closed circles and stare when strangers pass. Oh, and they never drink coffee.