Simple Pleasures.

Simple Pleasures.
Irish soda bread on its way up North with Noah.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gooey, Easy Coconut Chip Meringues

I don't care if you celebrate Passover, Easter, or just the fact that you are alive every day. This little meringue recipe will provide you with an unparalleled religious experience this Spring. I promise.

For what it's worth, I have absolutely no business posting right now. I should, in fact, be writing about one illness or another for one deadline or another that is coming up way too soon. Or at least paying attention to my kids, who were largely ignored this past weekend because "mom had a deadline" and dad was slaving away in, ahem, Las Vegas. (No, really he was working. He hates that place.)

But I have my priorities. And when I see that Passover is right around the bend, I feel duty bound to get this recipe out into the ether. I call these miraculous meringues for many reasons. First and foremost, if you are used to those heinous chalky blobs that plague just about every seder dessert table, these gooey, toothsome, fragile beauties will be a downright revelation. Second, these meringues are so yummy--imagine a slightly melted marshmallow, with a crisp shell on the outside and flecks of coconut and chocolate chips within--they will even win converts among the Easter crowd, who have absolutely no need whatsoever to be eating crappy, flourless desserts on their big holiday. And third, you can whip these up on the fly absolutely any time, since their basic ingredients are so humble even old Mrs. Hubbard is likely to have them in her cupboard. I mean, four measly egg whites make about a million cookies. And you don’t even need flour in the pantry! I toss in coconut along with the chocolate chips, since the combination ranks among my all time favorites. But if you fall into the coconut-hating crowd, you can stick with chips and live happily ever after.

Give these a shot this holiday season. You might very well end up making them all year long. A few words of wisdom to keep in mind:

* These are best if eaten the day you bake them. You can get away with baking one day ahead if you must. But be sure to taste one about 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven so you can experience utmost bliss, if even fleetingly.

* Tie children and maybe even adults to the dining room table while they eat these unless you want meringue flakes all over your house.

* Don't even think about mailing these anywhere. Your recipient will call asking why you sent them a box of sand and chocolate chips.

* Don't make these when it is raining torrentially or super super humid. They won't turn out very well. Good rule of thumb (at least for me): If it's a bad hair day. It's a bad meringue day.

* Oh, and Julie, if you live 80,000 feet above sea level, I don't know what to tell you.

4 large egg whites, at room temp

1/8 tsp. Salt

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut—or more to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lightly grease several cookie sheets with butter. Sprinkle flour over the sheets and shake to distribute the flour. Then turn the sheets upside down over the sink to knock off any excess flour. (Alternatively, go out and buy parchment paper. I know it sounds like a big serious step, but just go to the aisle where you find Saran Wrap and aluminum foil and boldly pluck a roll of parchment off the shelf. No one will ask for your diploma from the CIA, I promise. Then skip all that silly greasing and flouring and just line each cookie sheet with a nice neat rectangle of parchment. The meringues are so dry, you can just brush off the parchment and reuse it when you make your next batch. Which I suspect you will be doing soon thereafter.)

2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-low speed, beat the egg whites with salt in a medium-size mixing bowl until frothy, about 40 seconds. Gradually add the sugar, then raise the mixer speed to high and add the vanilla. Beat the mixture for 50 seconds, stop to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, then continue beating until the mixture forms very stiff peaks--should take a few minutes longer. Then gently fold in the chocolate chips and coconut with the rubber spatula.

3. Drop the mixture by slightly rounded teaspoons (or with a small ice cream scoop) about 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

4. Bake the cookies until they turn a very light beige, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets. Again, make the kids eat them at the table, unless you want white crumbly stuff all over the house. Makes about 40 cookies.