Romula Yanes, Copyright © 2010 by Conde Nast Publications
Gourmet had always assumed that its readers were accomplished cooks, printing recipes that were written in a conversational manner, as if one cook was simply telling them to another in a kind of verbal shorthand. When the magazine changed the recipe format in 1982, it was a sign of how much things had evolved in America. No longer able to count on the readers' experience, Gourmet tried to make the recipe more accessible by separating the ingredients from the directions.
You actually need very few ingredients for these delicate cloud-light almond meringues, which are a play on pure texture. They weigh almost nothing, but when you put one of them into your mouth, it crunches audibly. Then the cookie slowly begins to dissolve, leaving the chocolate to linger in your mouth along with the faintest memory of meringue.
Makes about 4 dozen meringues
• 3 large egg whites, at room temperature • 1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1⁄3 cup sugar • 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract
• 1⁄2 cup ground blanched almonds • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at moderate speed until they are foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and the almond extract, beating, then beat the meringue until it holds very stiff peaks, and fold in the almonds, a little at a time.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and attach the paper by putting a dab of the meringue on the underside of each corner. Drop rounded teaspoons of the meringue two inches apart on the baking sheets, bake the meringues in the lower third of a preheated very slow oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) for 45 to 50 minutes, or until they are firm and dry, and loosen them from the paper with the tip of a small knife. (The meringues may be prepared up to this point and stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.) Spread a thin layer of the chocolate, melted and cooled, on the bottom of each meringue and attach two meringues bottom to bottom. Transfer the meringues to a rack set in a cool, dry place and let them stand for one hour, or until the chocolate is hard.
1. Use a piping bag with a plain 1⁄2-inch tip to give the cookies their iconic shape. 2. Do not allow the filling to cool before sandwiching the cookies together.
To read Jessie Cacciola's review of The Gourmet Cookie Book, in which this recipe appears, click here.