The first time my friend Marsha and I tried meringues, we fell in love with them and could not stop eating them. Light and sweet, we used to make them by the dozen when My Most Favorite Dessert Company opened on Madison Avenue. Sometimes they would fall and we would hide the imperfect ones in the middle and put the gorgeous ones on the outside of the display. We sold them in a box designed by a famous designer who did a clock for MoMA, and soon the orders started pouring in from well-known stores like A&S, Macy’s and Zabar’s. We realized then that this was a very versatile dessert. For example, in South America, meringues are often sandwiched with fresh whipped cream and served with strawberries and raspberries on the side. There are a lot of meringue recipes out there but, for my taste, these are the most delicious.
2 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks and is glossy.
3. Using 2 tablespoons, drop the mixture off one spoon, pushing it with the second spoon onto the prepared baking sheet; leave 2 inches in between the mounds.
4. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cool. Store, in a single layer, in an airtight container for several days.
Make the meringue mixture as directed in the recipe, and after beating in the vanilla, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, beat until fully incorporated. finish the meringues as directed in Steps 2 and 3.
There is a fun restaurant on East Sixtieth Street in Manhattan called Serendipity 3. Back in the mid-eighties, we delivered meringues to them, and I will never forget the day they places an order for pink meringues. The fellows as Serendipity were way ahead of the curve, as tinted meringues–pink, yellow, green–are now in vogue, some fifteen years later. To make colored meringues, add a tiny drop of liquid food coloring to the meringue mixture. Even a little food coloring goes a long way.
Egg whites are pure protein with very few calories. The addition of unsweetened cocoa to the meringues adds a wonderful chocolate richness with only a few added calories.