I think like most people, I've made a New Year's Resolution to eat healthier and exercise more in the New Year. Especially with writing new recipes for this blog and all the cooking classes I'm teaching- it seems like a little taste here and an extra bite there have caused the needle on my scale to ever so sneakily creep up on me. To resist the temptation of the extra holiday sweets we laying around the house, I decided to whip up a batch of meringues. I've always loved meringue cookies- sweet, crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and piped into big star kisses. Yum! They also happen to be a fat free and easy-to-make treat. My recipe is great for us dieters who are craving a little bit of chocolate because they are flavored with chocolate extract and cocoa nibs from the Spice House and dusted over the tops with cocoa powder. Even with these additions, a big one will only run you about 75 calories. That's something to feel good about!
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag prepared with a large star tip. (If you do not have a pastry bag, you can easily portion the meringue with a large spoon. I just love the piped look.)
-Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on medium speed until broken up and slightly foamy.
-Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking on medium until fluffy.
-Increase mixer speed to medium-high and begin to add sugar, whisking in a few tablespoons at a time.
-Add the chocolate and vanilla extracts and continue whisking at a medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. The meringue will be glossy and stiff.
-Carefully fold in the cocoa nibs.
-Spoon mixture into prepared pastry bag and pipe batter onto baking sheets.
-Place baking sheets in the oven and allow to sit there for a moment.
-Turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven for at least four hours or overnight. Do not open the oven during this time!! The meringues will cook in the residual heat and opening the oven will cool the oven off.
-Dust finished meringues with cocoa powder and store in an airtight container.
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