Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

By Ann Fulton

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Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter.

 

In its simplest form, a meringue is a dessert that is made by baking a mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar until crisp but not brown. 

The result is light as air, crisp, and sweet. Meringues are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free unless an additional ingredient is added to a specific recipe and changes that.  

The following recipe uses the traditional preparation, which incorporates a small amount of cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites. It also adds chocolate chips, which provide a welcome element of texture and a bitter-sweet contrast to the pronounced sweetness of the meringue. 

When my boys were little, this was a favorite recipe because it was also a captivating science project. Watching two egg whites morph from less than a half cup of clear liquid to a bowlful of billowy white clouds is a sight to behold. I still marvel at the process.

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

Tips for meringue success:

  • Because they are more viscous (thicker) and more acidic, fresher eggs will produce a more stable meringue. Interestingly, older eggs will produce more volume because they’re less viscous and less acidic, but the meringues won’t hold up as well.
  • Colder egg whites are easier to separate, but room temperature eggs whites will produce more volume because air will whip into them more easily. For this reason, I like to separate refrigerated eggs about 20 minutes before starting the recipe and then let them sit at room temperature until ready to bake. 
  • For best meringues, the egg whites should contain no traces of the yolk. For this reason, separating the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl and then transfer to the mixing bowl offers a bit of an insurance policy.
  • Be sure the mixing bowl and beaters are clean with no traces of oil, as fat hinders the development of the egg whites. 
  • Where the mixing bowl is concerned, glass and stainless steel are best. Avoid plastic, if possible, because it often harbors traces of fat. Note: While copper is excellent for whipping egg whites, it will react with acidic stabilizers when used and can discolor the meringue. 
  • Be sure your mixing bowl is large enough to accommodate the expanding egg whites.
  • A pinch of salt is a helpful addition because it reduces the viscosity or thickness of the mixture, which allows for greater volume. 
  • While superfine sugar will dissolve more quickly and is said to create a better meringue, I have always used regular granulated sugar in this recipe with excellent results. If using superfine sugar, you may wish to use a tablespoon less as its finer crystals result in more sugar by volume.
  • Freshly whipped meringues are fragile, so it’s best to bake the meringues immediately after whipping. 
  • Over-whipped meringues will appear dry, grainy, and clumpy. Sadly, they cannot be salvaged. Essentially, the foam bubbles become too big, lose their structure, and will pop and deflate when baked.
Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

You’ll know the egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage when you lift the whisk and the peaks don’t droop over.

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

Gently folding in the chocolate chips prevents the whipped mixture from deflating too much. I like to use dark chocolate, which balances the sweetness of the meringue. Classic semi-sweet morsels work well, too.

How do you “fold” one ingredient into another? 

In this process, a light, airy mixture is combined with a thicker, heavier mixture. Start in the center of the bowl, and using a large flexible spoon or spatula, cut down through the mixture. In one motion, continue to scrape across the bottom of the bowl, up the side closest to you, and back over into the center. Continue this motion, rotating the bowl slightly with each stroke. The down-across-up-and-over motion gently combines the ingredients while preserving the light, fluffy consistency. 

In most cases, the goal is a homogeneous mixture without streaks or separation. In the case of adding chocolate chips to the meringue, the aim is an even distribution. 

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

I use two spoons to form the meringues, which look like little clouds. My mom pointed out that it’s much easier to use a spoon and your finger. 😊

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

Because the meringues are very sweet and a touch crumbly, I aim for a cookie that can be eaten in about two bites.

Sweet, crisp, and light as a cloud, these classic meringue cookies are easy to make and look beautiful on a holiday cookie platter

At this point, you may lightly press a few chocolate chips into the meringues before baking. There will usually be a few that look a little short on the chips. You may also like the appearance of visible chips on the exterior of the cookies. In this case, lightly dot several on top of each cookie.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
Yield: About two dozen
Light, airy, and fun to make, these melt-in-your-mouth meringues look beautiful on a holiday dessert platter. For greater contrast to the sweet meringue, use dark chocolate chips instead of the traditional semi-sweet.
Ingredients
  • 2 egg whites (room temperature*)
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup (96g) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (85g) chocolate chips (plus extra for dotting on top, if desired)
Instructions
  1. Adjust two oven racks to the center of the oven. Preheat to 225℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl. Beat whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt.
  3. On high speed continue beating until soft peaks stand when beaters are lifted (it will look like a mountain shape and the top should droop and bend over).
  4. On high speed, slowly beat in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, occasionally stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. (Tip: if not weighing the sugar, be sure to shake off any excess and level the cup. A little sugar goes a long way in meringues.)
  5. Continue beating until stiff peaks form (no droops) when beaters are lifted (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add the vanilla, beating until just blended, and then gently fold in the chocolate chips by hand.
  7. Drop the mixture by heaping spoonfuls onto the parchment-lined pans, spacing one inch apart. If desired, dot the cookies with several additional chocolate chips, very lightly pressing into the meringue.
  8. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes; check on the early side (you don’t want these cookies to brown), and then turn off the oven and let the cookies sit in the hot oven for 30 minutes longer.
  9. Transfer to cooling racks, and when cool enough, peel from parchment paper.
Helpful hints

*Eggs separate more easily when cold but whip better when room temperature. I typically separate the eggs 20 or so minutes before I’m ready to start the cookies and let them sit at room temp.

For more chocolatey appeal, you may add a few additional chocolate chips to the outside of the cookies once spooned onto the baking sheets and before baking.

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Wondering what the various types of meringue are? Following are the three varieties:

  • French meringue is the style typically used to make cookies and the style used for these meringues. In this traditional process, egg whites are beaten until soft peaks are reached and then the sugar is incorporated for a super light and airy mixture. Once shaped, the meringues are baked until crisp and dry, and they remain very airy inside.
  • Italian meringue is used to frost cakes or as a base for frosting, mousse, sorbets, and ice cream. This type of meringue can also be used as a pie topping. This process involves drizzling hot sugar syrup into egg whites that have already been beaten into peaks. 
  • Swiss meringue is smoother and silkier than its French and Italian counterparts and is typically used as a frosting base. For this process, egg whites and sugar are beaten slowly in a double boiler (a pot that sits atop a second pot of boiling water without touching it). The mixture is then removed from the heat and beaten vigorously to attain full volume. 
Never too old!

Never too old to ask your mom if you may lick the beaters. ❤️

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