Today is July 8th, and it is too darned hot in most areas of the country, including my kitchen. Outside, the weather is fantastically, singularly Bay Area: fog +breeze, then sun + breeze, followed by more fog + breeze, ending sometime tonight with pretty darn cold. This is not a complaint! It’s one of the reasons I love living here.
National Chocolate & Almonds Day seems a little out of place for the month of July (again, not complaining). I love the combination of a good dark chocolate and fragrant toasted almonds. I enjoy them together quite a lot, but right this minute, I don’t relish the idea of turning on my oven today.
So, what to do?
I am making these Chocolate Almond Meringue Cookies. When you have an urge to make cookies, but don’t want to actually bake, this is the recipe for you. When you have extra egg whites hanging out in the fridge and you don’t know what to do with them, look no further. Or, when a national holiday commemorating two fantastic yet kind of heavy when they are together ingredients rolls around, well, here you go.
Chocolate Almond Meringue Cookies
3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5-6 drops of lemon juice
1 cup chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped
Make a Swiss meringue:
Bring a cup of water to a simmer in a small pot. Pour the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 140F. Remove from heat and whip on medium-high speed just until stiff peaks form.
Add the nuts and chocolate, and gently fold together.
Immediately spoon onto a paper-lined sheet pan and place into the oven. If you have a gas oven, the pilot light should be enough to dry these completely within about 8 hours (or overnight). If you do not have a gas oven, or you just want to speed up the process a bit, set the oven to “warm”. Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes. They should still be soft, but dry on the outside. Turn the oven off and allow the oven to cool completely before removing the cookies.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely. the closer to room temperature they are, the crispier they will be. These will soften quickly in a humid environment, so store them in an airtight container.