Thursday, 12 July 2012

roasted cocoa bean meringues

I have a sore throat. 

It's been a long week of gigs and being in the recording studio. It's exhausting stuff, this music stuff, and yet a lot of the time you're just waiting around being ready to sing your part. Still, it takes it out of you. These are the times when you need a little vanilla & roasted cocoa bean meringue in your hand, or better yet melting in your mouth. These pick-me-up meringues are a quirky take on the sickly sweet plain meringues that you're used to, they're packed with scraped vanilla bean and cocoa nibs. 

Have you heard of cocoa nibs?

They are roasted cocoa beans that are crushed up into little chocolate-chip like pieces. They aren't sweet at all and they have the crunch and smokiness of a roasted coffee bean. I was tempted to call them mocha meringues because your brain really is tricked into thinking that there is coffee in there, but there isn't at all. You can find them in specialty kitchen stores like the Cook and the Chef (if you're a sydney-sider).

They pair well with pillows of vanilla bean meringue and are a tad fancy-schmancy. Thanks Joy the Baker for inventing them!

Roasted Cocoa Bean Meringues
from Joy Wilson at Joy The Baker

3 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 tbs cocoa nibs

1. Preheat the oven to 150C

2. If using a vanilla bean, split the bean lengthways and scrape out the vanilla seeds. Using the back of a spoon press the seeds into the 3/4 cups of sugar until well infused. 

3. In a large bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks appear. Gradually add the vanilla sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. The meringue should hold its shape when spooned onto a baking tray.

4. Mix in the roasted cocoa beans (and vanilla extract if you did not use any vanilla bean). 

5. Line a cookie tray with baking paper and spoon the mixture onto the tray. If you want to go all professional you can pipe it using a shaped piping nozzle, however, I prefer the rustic look.

6. Bake for about an hour or until they are slightly browned and feel hollow to the touch. Let them cool on the baking tray so that they can go completely crunchy.

Store them in a napkin-lined airtight container - moisture is meringue's greatest enemy.

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