Joy of Baking

Cocoa meringue almond bark

(Styling/Catherine Smart; Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe)
March 23, 2011

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Makes about 30 (2-inch) pieces

Meringues are crispy, light egg-white confections that are low in calories and fat. A good meringue is airy, but here toasted almonds give each bite some substance. Instead of forming little mounds of beaten whites, this technique is a more rugged approach. Spread the nut-studded meringue onto a baking sheet, bake it at a low temperature until it’s dry, and then break it into shards when cool. Serve with fruit or sorbet.

1 cup whole, unblanched, unsalted almonds
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Spread the almonds in a baking dish. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes or until they are aromatic. Transfer to a plate to cool.

3. Chop the almonds coarsely.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute or until frothy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then the granulated sugar, and continue beating for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes more or until the meringue is very thick and shiny. When you stop the motor and lift up the whisk, there will be a thick strand of whites hanging from it.

5. On low speed, beat in the cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fully combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, scraping off the meringue clinging to the whisk.

6. With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the almonds.

7. Place the meringue in 4 clumps on the baking sheet. Use an offset metal spatula to spread the meringue evenly on the paper.

8. Bake the meringue in the middle of the oven, rotating the sheet from front to back halfway through baking, for 50 minutes or until the meringue feels firm-crisp on top and peels away easily from the paper.

9. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool completely. Use an offset spatula to lift up the meringue and break it into 2- to 3-inch shards. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Lisa Zwirn