LaVerle’s Chocolate Meringue Cookies with Fresh Strawberries

One of my favorite desserts is a light and airy meringue cookie topped with chocolate glaze and walnuts. In the springtime, it can be adapted into an elegant dessert when shaped as a meringue shell and served with fresh, ripe strawberries.

Chocolate Meringues with Strawberries - IMG_2646_1

This spring, Easter and Passover coincide on the same weekend. LaVerle’s Chocolate Meringue Cookies can be used for both holidays. My mother-in-law makes a meringue nest with fresh fruit for a Passover dessert. The meringues don’t have leavening agents or flour so fit into a traditional Passover menu. The chocolate meringue shells are tasty, elegant and lite, they can easily be used for dessert at Easter, too.

In Louisiana, strawberries are in season in April. The local ones are juicy, sweet and huge. Sliced, fresh strawberries make a good complement to the chocolate meringue shells.

Ripe Louisiana Strawberries - IMG_2624

LaVerle’s Chocolate Meringue Cookies

LaVerle Hosteler Sappington was a neighbor when we were growing up and this recipe came from my old, old recipe file. The shape of meringues remind me of Hershey’s kisses candy. The meringues are perhaps a little tricky to make; I remember my neighbor–with her jolly, animated voice and laugh–describing how to make a meringue. The cookies were placed on brown paper grocery bag pieces which we cut to fit the baking sheet and baked in a low heat oven for 45 -50 minutes so they would puff. As a little girl, I thought it was fascinating to bake something on a paper bag.

Nevertheless, the chocolate meringue cookies are delicious. I often make them as a Christmas and Hanakah cookie (we celebrate both holidays at our house).

Making the meringue cookies

This recipe requires some preparation, so, it’s wise to get all the ingredients prepped before starting to make the meringue. There really aren’t many ingredients, here they are (plus a little milk for making the glaze).

Ingredients - IMG_2585

I store unused walnuts in the freezer. To use, I toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes until they become aromatic and then chop them to fine pieces with a food chopper.

Walnut Pieces - IMG_2597

Grate the unsweetened chocolate squares with a fine grater.

Grating Chocolate Baking Squares - IMG_2588

Meringues are made of egg whites and sugar (with vanilla extract and the grated chocolate for flavor). The egg whites are beaten on high speed of an electric mixer until stiff. However, it will not work to beat air into egg whites if any egg yolk is accidentally mixed with the whites. I used an inexpensive egg separator to separate the yolks from the whites. It works every time.

Separating egg whites from yolks - IMG_2591

Beat the egg whites on high speed  in a very clean, dry mixing bowl with electric mixer until stiff but not dry.

Egg Whites - Stiff but not Dry - IMG_2593

Gradually and slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat until the egg whites are stiff –I had trouble with this–my egg whites became glossy. Do not over beat or all the volume will disappear.

Egg Whites with sugar - Stiff - IMG_2594

Very gently fold in the grated chocolate and remaining sugar using a lifting motion. Again, avoid stirring the meringue, or all the volume of the egg whites will disappear along with your work!

Folding in the Grated Chocolate - IMG_2599

The original recipe calls for the meringue to be dropped onto paper-covered baking sheet in small spoonfuls. I dropped 3 spoonfuls together making a “shell”. And I used parchment paper to line the baking sheets rather than brown paper bags.

Meringues on Baking Sheet - IMG_2603

For some of the shells; I gently swirled the the edges together to make a circular shell.

The meringues are baked at 275 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet and lift them off with a spatula. For the chocolate glaze, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips with a little milk over very low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate melts. Spoon some chocolate over each shell.

Melted Chocolate Glaze - IMG_2622

Sprinkle with the walnut bits before the chocolate glaze hardens.

Chocolate Meringue Cookie with Stawberries - 3- IMG_2633

My original intent was to serve sliced strawberries inside each meringue “shell”. However, my shells weren’t large enough for this. Instead, it works to serve sliced and whole strawberries as an accompaniment on the plate with mint for garnish.

Chocolate Meringue Cookie with Strawberry - 2 IMG_2632

Recipe

LaVerle's Chocolate Meringue Cookies with Fresh Strawberries

  • Servings: 18 shells or 48 individual cookies
  • Difficulty: technical
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, finely grated

For topping

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 2/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped finely

Serve with

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced and whole
  • mint for garnish (optional)

Instructions and Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff (not dry).
  3. Gradually add 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla extract while continuing to beat until they form stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in remaining sugar mixed with the grated chocolate.
  5. Drop from teaspoons onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper. (For this dessert; drop three spoonfuls together and smoothed the edges to make a circular shell.)
  6. Cool and remove from paper using spatula.
  7. For decorative topping, melt together the semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk. Spoon the melted chocolate over the meringues and sprinkle with walnut bits. (If making individual cookies, dip each cookie into the chocolate and then into the nuts.)
  8. Let chocolate harden before storing.
  9. To serve, place a shell on serving plate along with fresh sliced and whole strawberries and garnish with mint leaves (optional).

After an large meal; this dessert is lite and just the right touch of sweetness to make a memorable ending. Enjoy!

Chocolate Meringue Cookie with Strawberries - 4 - IMG_2648

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