Chocolate Mint Meringues

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By Emily Paster

It all started with the Meyer lemons.

I was doing my just-buy-the-necessities-because-we-are-leaving-town shopping trip last week when a display of vibrant yellow Meyer lemons caught my eye. I cannot resist Meyer lemons, which are bigger and sweeter than typical lemons with an especially shiny smooth rind, because they make an exceptional lemon curd. (For the lemon curd recipe, go to my friend Marisa's blog, Food in Jars.) So, although it was not exactly practical, I bought half a dozen Meyer lemons and some extra eggs to make the lemon curd. Over the weekend, I made the lemon curd and processed it for shelf-stability because, again, we were going out of town in a few days.

But the problem was, the byproduct of Marisa's lemon curd recipe is six egg whites. I hate wasting food. So I saved those egg whites in a Tupperware and popped them in the fridge. With only a few days to go until our trip, those egg whites were staring at me balefully. What was I going to do with them? (I have since learned that you can freeze egg whites, a fact that I did not know in time.)

Well, my favorite thing to do with egg whites is to make meringues. My husband loves meringues and they happen to be a very low-calorie treat. I had this notion that I could mix some of the candy canes that my kids had dragooned me into buying into the meringues to make mint meringues. How tasty and seasonal! So again, although it was not exactly practical, I whipped up a batch of these chocolate mint meringues. They turned out better than I expected so I proceeded to give them away like crazy to neighbors and friends as a last-minute holiday gift. And, of course, I got a blog post out of it.

Packaged nicely, these cookies are quite pretty and, for anyone on your list who is watching his or her weight, these can be a guilt-free holiday indulgence.

Chocolate Mint Meringues Kisses
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 candy cane, crushed
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3 TB unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 225. Combine crushed candy canes with granulated sugar and set aside. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together and set aside. Place parchment paper or Silpats on two baking sheets.

In standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed. Gradually add granulated sugar/candy cane mix to egg whites, one tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed. Continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks. (That means that when you remove the whisk, the meringue forms a peak that stays in place.) With a rubber spatula, gently fold in powdered sugar/cocoa mixture until blended.

Drop dollops of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets using a spoon, or pipe them into "kiss" shapes using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or simply a large plastic bag with one corner trimmed off.

Bake meringues for two hours or until dry and crisp.

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