I can never resist the offer of a cup of chai or coffee with my closest friends. What a delightfully cosy conspiracy it is; we share news and brews happily oblivious of the world outside our circle. Far in a foreign land now, I miss that reassuring ritual. Just to kick back, feel the knots untangle almost automatically at the sound of familiar voices and comfortable chemistry. Often, we nibble on little morsels that somehow give the cuppa and the conversation a delicious succulence. Some naughty, some nice, small and sweet or with salty spice, these treats are pulled out of biscuit tins on short notice when spontaneous plans are made. Motivated by the sweet memories of my favourite friendships, I made meringue cookies – coconutty clouds splattered with chocolate ganache. Light and crunchy on the surface, with a mildly sweet, chewy core, they felt so right with a cup of something warm in my palms.
Meringue cookies are nothing but puffs of egg white that go poof in no time and so it is only right to make them in large batches. Nobody eats just one. I’m thinking I should churn out meringues more frequently. Not only are these really simple to do, they kind of cook themselves and don’t need hours of attention. After the first hour of baking them low and slow, all you have to do is switch off the oven and leave them for a couple hours or even overnight to finish cooking and dry out. Versatile, they happily embrace any flavour you want them to be friends with and can even be taken up a notch when sandwiched with a filling or jam.
Because this recipe is for meringue cookies, they are flatter than the plump white meringue peaks you’re used to seeing. Instead of being piped from an icing bag, these are simply plopped with a rounded tablespoon. Fancy? No, but they will make you feel like it’s a sunny, coconutty kind of day. I had some chocolate ganache on hand, which I literally just threw on the cooled meringues. Too much ganache will make them go soft, so use a light hand. Give the chocolate a little time to set before you box the cookies. Meringues absorb moisture so store them in a tin at room temperature but if you live in a humid climate, keep them in the fridge, where they will get ever so slightly soft but will retain their crunch for the most part.
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ tsp salt
- 130 g castor sugar
- 70 g dessicated coconut, slightly toasted and cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 ml whipping cream
- 100 g dark chocolate, chopped
- Line 2-3 (depending on their size) baking sheets with lightly greased baking parchment and preheat the oven to 130°C.
- In a clean bowl beat the egg whites with salt in a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, till they get foamy.
- Pour in the vanilla and add the sugar in 2 batches beating the egg on high speed till white, stiff peaks form.
- Now very gently, using a metal spoon, fold in the toasted coconut. Don’t worry if the eggs deflate a little.
- Now, use a tablespoon to drop heaped dollops of the mixture with an inch between them, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour. After an hour, switch off the oven and leave the meringues for 2 hours more with the oven door slightly ajar to cook through in the residual heat and dry out. If your oven doesn’t retain heat very well, keep the door closed. Then, leave them in the oven for a few more hours to cool completely before painting them with chocolate ganache.
- Have the ganache at room temperature so that it has the consistency to form thin ribbons. Dip a tablespoon into the ganache and wave it over the cookies on the baking sheet so that it mimics paint-splatter. Leave the ganache to set fully before storing the meringue in airtight tins.
- To make the ganache, heat the whipping cream in a saucepan till it is just under boiling. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon or whisk till the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy. Leave to set for a couple of hours before you use it.