Well the workload has definitely begun to swamp me again. I sat in front of my office computer for no fewer than 19 hours this weekend and am beginning this week feeling both exhausted and stir crazy. It’s an unpleasant combination that I’m sure any student or cubical rat is familiar with. I’m determined to get to the gym this evening, even if it means falling a bit more behind. I’m also trying to convince my man to make one of these for me, haha, but I’m not holding my breath.
The silver lining to this weekend was that I was able to get in some show tune sing-a-longs. See I love musicals, theater, and Disney songs of all sorts. The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack makes a regular rotation on my iPhone, along with the soundtracks from Chicago, Once Upon a Mattress, Hello Dolly, and – of course – Wicked. Being in a large office space alone at 1 in the morning means you can belt out Defying Gravity to your silly heart’s content – which I did… many times. Who says Science and The Arts can’t go together?
Speaking of going well together, I recently discovered that chocolate and meringue compliment each other more so than I would have thought. Brad and I were both craving chocolate cookies the other day, but I had run out of both chocolate chips and butter. Searching for a cocoa-based dairy-free cookie recipe I was lucky enough to discover these. Now, I have to warn you that my cookies, while very good, didn’t turn out the way Heidi described: where she got gooey chocolate puddles I got crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside, satisfyingly thick mounds. She does warn that baking time can be finicky and that leaving the dough out to dry can influence results. I’m guessing that the combination of those plus my mini-oven were the cause of “chocolate puddles” turning into – what I’ve decided to call – “chocolate clouds”. I’m not disappointed. My cookies married the best of chocolate and meringue-lovers’ worlds. Still, I’d be curious to see how this recipe replicates for others. Let me know if you try them please!
Chocolate Cloud Cookies (minimally adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
3 C whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
4 C confectioner’s sugar
½ C plus 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
4 large egg whites, room temp (preferably free-range)
1 T pure vanilla extract
1) Preheat the oven to 300°F and line at least 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. The source recipe warns of these babies spreading out like puddles, but mine never did. Still, just in case, you might want to give them extra elbow-room.
2) Sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the almonds, then add egg whites and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined.
3) Spoon mounds of about 2 Tablespoons of dough each onto prepared baking sheets leaving some extra space between the cookies just in case. Bake until cookies puff up, and the outsides have become glossy and have cracked – 15 to 20 minutes. Once baked fully, slide the parchment paper with cookies still attached carefully onto wire cooling racks. Trying to remove the cookies from the parchment before they have fully cooled will cause the bottoms to rip off and you’ll be left with a shell of a cookie.
4) Serve cookies with a tall glass of milk and a Valentine’s Day card to your loved ones!
These cookies blend the light chewiness of meringue with satisfying rich cocoa flavor and crunchy nuts. They are even better dunked in milk and – dangerously – can be eaten by the pile. Another bonus is their incredibly short ingredients list. Plus, if you choose to sub in dried fruit or chocolate chips for the nuts you can have a gluten-free*, dairy-free, and nut-free cookie! I’m actually thinking of trying these with dried cranberries and walnuts for tomorrow – giving these babies little speckles of red for Valentine’s Day.
*If you’re going for the gluten-free variety, make sure to buy pure cocoa powder. Cocoa powder itself is gluten-free, but many brands include additives that contain gluten.
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥