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Are you looking for a sweet, seasonal dessert recipe that is easy to make yet looks impressive? Then look no further than hot cocoa meringue cookies.
Some cooks see meringue in a recipe and think, no thanks — too complicated, too easy to do it wrong. That’s no surprise since meringue does feel a little magical. In fact, though it’s a traditional dessert, it has mysterious origins. Culinary historians can’t quite agree on where meringue came from, but we do know that Marie Antoinette was a big fan of the dessert. Word around her court was that she even made them by hand herself.
Lucky for us, we have modern technology to help us make our meringue fluffy and airy, and straightforward instructions to help bakers who are lacking confidence in their meringue skills.
With this recipe for hot cocoa meringues from Betty Crocker, you use an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer) to beat your meringue at a high speed. The most important part of this recipe is to make sure you don’t underbeat your meringue. It needs to have stiff peaks.
A similar recipe from Sweet Ambs takes meringue to the next level by including chocolate ganache in the middle. She also uses peppermint in the ganache to give her meringue an added depth of flavor and bite. Here’s what her peppermint hot chocolate meringue cookies look like once they’re finished:
As you can see from these recipes, many people believe that a pastry bag and piping tip is a must when making meringue cookies. Sweet Ambs uses pastry tip 804 (but mentions that you could use a plastic bag), while Betty Crocker advises that you use a large star piping tip.
Made with nothing other than egg whites, cocoa powder, fine sugar, salt and cream of tartar, Cup of Chai adapted this recipe from chef Mark Bittman’s Vanilla Meringue recipe from the New York Times. The only difference is that Bittman uses vanilla rather than cocoa powder.
Don’t be intimidated by this fancy-looking dessert. Bittman labeled this recipe “easy” for his readers. And here is a fun twist: If you’re making vanilla meringues, add a drop or two of red and green food coloring into your mixture to make meringues in a Christmas color palette, or opt for blue and white to make Hannukah meringue.
We think Marie Antoinette herself would approve!