Cocoa Almond Meringues

It's cold outside, not that I need to tell you. With winter upon us, it is getting harder and harder to convince myself to leave the house. Tonight it is supposed to get down to -40 degrees F with windchill out here in North Dakota. Can you really blame me? I have a hard enough time convincing myself to leave the house when its above zero. It's so cold I'm afraid my nose might freeze off and wouldn't that just be a sight.

Did you know that -40 degrees is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius? It's the only place on the temperature scale where we can finally find some common ground.

I have become a happy homebody in my pajama pants and thick sweaters. By day, I watch the flakes fall from the comfort of my warm home, the smell of hot and fresh cookies filling the house. By night, I snuggle up with a heavy blanket next to the fireplace and watch a movie with a bowl of home-cooked popcorn. Remind me why winter is so bad, again?

Today I made a mug of hot cocoa to complement these cookies. The rich, thick cocoa offsets these little pillows perfectly. With a cookie that's lighter than air, you might just find you don't need those marshmallows anymore.

These cocoa almond meringues are absolutely addictive. They may look like rough, jagged stones but they are lighter than air. The meringues have a rich chocolate flavor with a hint of almond. These cookies are crunchy and chewy, with bits and pieces of chocolate chunks and almond mixed within. These meringues have a deep flavor and texture; it would be a shame not to try these.

Cocoa Almond Meringues
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours

Yields about 30 cookies

1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, ground almonds, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until they are opaque. Turn up the speed to medium-high and add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Mix in the vanilla. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, finely chopped chocolate, and toasted almonds. Work rapidly so the egg whites deflate as little as possible.

Drop by the tablespoon-full onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving two inches between them. Lightly dust with powdered sugar if you please. Bake for 10 minutes and, without opening the oven door, turn down the temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from parchment paper.