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For Chocolate Lovers only
 

Chocolate cake


NOVEMBER 2002
RECIPES



Special Section: The Annual Non-Chocolate Gift Food List

Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread

Mocha-Rum Risotto

Brutti ma Buoni al Cacao

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Brutti ma Buoni al Cacao

Tips: : “Brutti ma buoni” translates to “ugly but good”. While I don’t find these ugly at all, they haven’t the regular, smooth surface of many other cookies. These are meringues (in this case, chocolate meringues) with chunks of bittersweet chocolate and toasted hazelnuts in them; there are as many recipes for these as there are people who bake them. Your chocolate chunks, incidentally, should be no larger than about 1/4 inch on a side. You'll need baking parchment to make these cookies; it's often available in supermarkets at this time of year.

To ensure good volume of your egg whites when they’re beaten, make sure they’re at room temperature (or slightly warmer). Your bowl and beaters must be completely grease-free, too. The meringue for these cookies is very stiff, but that makes it easier to portion out. These would be great for any informal gathering, and as you might expect they’re perfect with a cup of coffee. Brutti ma Buoni will keep at room temperature for a few days if stored airtight. They can be frozen for longer storage, but they are fragile (see directions below) and I think their flavor begins to diminish if they’re frozen for more than a few weeks.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts
  • 2/3 cup (about 4 ounces) bittersweet OR semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 4 egg whites, from eggs graded “large”, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups unsifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in single layer in shallow, foil-lined baking pan. Toast hazelnuts about 9 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until very fragrant and a light golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely before chopping coarsely (this can be done up to 24 hours in advance). In small bowl, combine cooled, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chunks; set aside.

If necessary, heat oven again to 350 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper cut to fit. In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk beater, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until foamy. Add salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until white and greatly increased in volume. Gradually add granulated sugar, reducing mixer speed as you add it, then increasing mixer speed again until the sugar is thoroughly blended in before the next addition.

Repeat procedure with confectioners’ sugar, reducing speed as each addition is put into the meringue, then gradually increasing speed again to blend it in. About halfway through adding confectioners’ sugar, stop the mixer; scrape down bowl and beater with a large spatula before beginning to add remaining sugar. Meringue will be very stiff when all sugar has been added, and it should hold a stiff peak. Add vanilla and beat in thoroughly. Remove bowl from mixer, scraping as much meringue from beater into bowl as possible.

SIFT IN the Dutch process cocoa powder, then carefully fold it in with a large spatula. The meringue will be so stiff that it will take you a couple of minutes to thoroughly blend in the cocoa powder—OK. Once the cocoa powder is thoroughly blended in, and the chocolate chunks and cooled, chopped hazelnuts; fold in just until evenly distributed.

Drop the meringue by heaping teaspoons onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Make sure to leave some room between the meringues, which will spread as they bake; I use 17 by 12 inch baking sheets here, and place 15 meringues onto each. Bake one sheet at a time in the preheated oven for 11 to 13 minutes, turning back-to-front once about halfway through baking time. The meringues will expand and crack as they bake. The lesser baking time will result in a chewier center, while more baking time will mean a drier and airier meringue throughout. While one panful bakes, continue dropping more meringues onto other prepared cookie sheets; they can stand at room temperature, uncovered, until there is space in the oven for them.

When meringues are done, remove baking sheet to cooling rack. Allow meringues to stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then slide parchment paper, with meringues still on it, to another cooling rack. Allow meringues to stand till completely cooled, then peel from parchment paper (they should peel off very easily).

Store meringues airtight at room temperature for up to three or four days; freeze for longer storage. To freeze, place meringues in single layer on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet; freeze until frozen through. Stack carefully in freezerproof container; place in freezer where they won’t get crushed. Thaw at room temperature, still in container.

Yields: About 3 dozen meringues

© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; “mirror” or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

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