Sometimes, food is just so unbearably pretty.
See: these meringues. They make me regret that I’m not a better photographer. The streaks and wooshes and swirls of dark, rich Nutella against stark white meringue make these some of the prettiest things I’ve produced.
I love how rustic they are. I thought about piping them out for perfect little swirls, but I’m glad I didn’t. Their charm lies in their irregularity, in the peaks and valleys and unexpected caves, like tiny sandstone monuments, worn over by waves and wind.
And honestly, meringue is kind of a wonder. I whipped it by hand because I don’t have a mixer, and watching that watery clear egg white foam and expand and become thick with sugar and air was nothing short of magic.
From Cream Puffs in Venice.
Makes 12-20 meringues, depending on size.
1/4 cup Nutella
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
Heat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Warm the Nutella in a microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat until just melted.
Place the egg whites and salt in a large bowl and whisk to soft peaks. At this point, start adding the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time and continue whisking until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the meringue is very thick. It should leave stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the meringue.
Drizzle in the Nutella and quickly and gently fold the Nutella into the meringue three or four times. You want to leave those lovely streaks in, so don’t over-mix.
Using two spoons, drop the meringue onto the parchment-lined baking sheets in large dollops and swirls
Place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, immediately lower the heat to 200°F and rotate the trays. Bake for an hour.
After an hour, check the meringues. They should look and feel dry. If you see any shine or moisture on them, continue baking them for another 10 minutes. Shut off the oven and leave the meringues to cool with the oven for a few hours or overnight. When you remove them from the baking sheet, they should release easily from the parchment and sound dry when you tap them.
The meringues will keep in an airtight container for a week.
I’ve tried this with cookie butter and the meringues were fine, but evidently cookie butter has more oil than Nutella as the meringues deflated quite a bit more. They were flatter and were not nearly as pretty without the dramatic swoops.
I whipped the meringue by hand, but it would of course be much easier with a standing mixer or a hand mixer. However, I recommend doing something like this by hand every once in a while even if you do have mechanized assistance — it makes one thankful for our technological advancements and burns quite a few calories that you can make up for with cookies.
Music to cook by: Mrs. O [The Dresden Dolls // Yes, Virginia]