Joy the Baker

Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Nib Meringues

January 18, 2012

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Have you ever spent a hearty sum of money on something… and then didn’t want to use it because it was so expensive?

I sometimes feel that way about my couch.  Ok… I didn’t spend a ton of money on my couch… but, well… it felt like a lot of money at the time.  As a result, I feel like the couch must be treated with the proper respect.  God forbid someone should try and jump on it.  Heck..  if someone sits down on it too hard (is that really even possible) I look at them sideways.

And don’t even get me started on the cat.  He has nooooo respect.  Probably because he has noooo concept of what money is.

My couch isn’t fancy.  But… I feel like the very fact that I have a couch puts me on the fancier side of fancy.  I spent a lot of years without a couch.

Don’t sit down to hard on my couch… that’s all I ask.  Oh!  and if you’re going to park your rear end for a prolonged amount of time, please rotate seat spots.  You’re mushing my cushions.  Nevermind that it’s a couch made for sitting and mushing.  I’m unreasonable.  I know.  I truly am.

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I feel like these cookies echo my fancy couch sentiments.

See… they have fancy ingredients in them.  Cocoa nibs and vanilla beans deserve some respect.  When these two ingredients meet in a cookie, the cookie should be held in the highest esteem… even if it’s just a light, puff-of-air meringue.

Treating yourself is important.  Treating yourself to a couch, and then acting unreasonably about its use might be silly.  But splurging of some crunchy cocoa nibs and baking them into cookies is a slightly easier treat.  And your cat won’t scratch cocoa nibs.

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These meringues were inspired by Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.  Tartine is one of the best bakeries in the land.  They’re people that do things right.  It is a dream.  Tartine has cocoa nib studded meringues that are perfect.  You’ll want to order two… and you should… but you’ll probably only be able to eat one.  Trust me.

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Meringues require eggs.  The brown yolk-y kind… not necessarily the wood or marble type, even though they’re pretty.

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These cookies are so simple… but they have some really lovely splurge ingredients in them .

Cocoa Nibs add a crunchy, chocolate and coffee flavor.  Vanilla Beans add that beautifully irresistible fragrance.

They’re special baking items… and totally worth the splurge.

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I always want to swim in glossy, unbaked meringue.  It’s like thick marshmallow cream.

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Easily dollop with a big soup spoon.  Keep it easy in the kitchen.

The parchment paper is a complete must.  Parchment paper might seem like another splurge item… but it’s important.  It’s not like foil.  It’s only like parchment paper.  There is no substitute.

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Take a bite while the cookies are still on the baking sheet.

You know why?  Because you’re grown.  You made grown cookies.  There’s no butter in them.  And you you you are living a good life.  Bite!

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Eat off the baking tray… but please don’t forget to make things beautiful.  Beautiful things always make me feel better.  And!  Since we’ve splurged on such lovely ingredients… we really should take out a pretty plate and brew a nice pot of coffee.

These cookies are light but crunchy.  The centers are simultaneously hallow and chewy.  They are a combination of delicate and rustic.  Have them with hot coffee, red wine, or in bed with a glass of cold orange juice.  It’s your world… and it’s a beautiful one.

Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Nib Meringues

makes 12 cookies

adapted from Food and Wine

Print this Recipe!

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped of seeds (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa nibs

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together granulated sugar and vanilla bean scrapings with the back of a spoon.  Press the vanilla bean scrapings into the sugar until well distributed and fragrant.  Set aside.

Clean and dry the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Add egg whites and beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Add pinch of salt and cream of tartar.  Increase speed to medium high and beat to soft peaks.  The egg whites will be white and foamy, with large but tight bubbles.

Gradually add the granulated sugar, increasing the mixer speed to high.  Beat for about 3 minutes on high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Egg whites will be spoonable, but keep their shape when dolloped onto a baking sheet.  Once thick, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in cocoa nibs and vanilla extract (if you didn’t use vanilla bean).

On prepared baking sheet, dollop out egg white mixture by the two tablespoonful.  Space about 1-inch apart, although the meringues won’t spread as they bake.  Place in the oven and allow to cook for 60 to 70 minutes.  Meringues will brown sightly on the top and feel hollow to the touch.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Remove from the parchment and serve with coffee or mint tea.

Meringues will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days.  


148 Comments Add A Comment

  • I have a bag of cacao nibs in my pantry that is feeling sad and neglected. I NEED to make these!

  • every time i read your blog i end up saying that i NEED cocoa nibs…and i DO need them! why haven’t i found them yet?!

    must change this today!

  • Oh my. Those meringues … divine. And no butter, no egg yolks, and dark chocolate! Practically health food!

    My grandmother used to say “Don’t pop the cushions!” whenever anyone would sit too enthusiastically on one of the couches (she also used to call the couch the “davenport”, which I had no idea was archaic until I was an adult, and which now I like to use just to see people’s blank expressions). Even though my couch now has cushions that are supposedly unsquishable (only in theory, sadly), I still find myself yelping “Don’t pop the cushions!” whenever my husband flings himself down on it. Poor guy.

  • These look too delicate to eat! Lovely.

  • I’m not yet fancy enough to own a couch, I inherited a sad old moth eaten one but its probably just as well, my husband spills cookie crumbs everywhere! Great to see a gluten free recipe, perfect for me. Thanks Joy x

  • I’m really stingy when it comes to using vanilla bean but these look worth it.

  • I so need to get on this cocoa nib bandwagon. I feel I’m missing out. This is definitely the treat needed after a some super hot days. Nice and light and crunchy and AWESOME!

  • Still couchless, but if I’ve got some good vanilla beans I’m set for life. Thanks, for another great (and gluten-free) recipe Joy!

  • Lea @GourmetMommy January 18, 2012 at 3:55 am

    I feel that way about my fancy wine glasses. I hardly use them with company for fear we’ll break them. And we rarely drink wine fancy enough to warrant fancy glasses. So sometimes when I’m feeling really rebellious, I’ll put cheap Chardonnay in a fancy glass to watch Pan Am and eat popcorn. Then I feel guilty. Probably more for watching Pan Am than anything else. But next time I’ll make cocoa nib cookies and won’t feel guilty about anything.

  • Pretty things totally matter in life; so true about the pretty plates and a nice pot of coffee. I agree. Plus, food tastes better when you eat it off something pretty.

    And if someone were to plop too hard on my couch, spill crumbs or coffee on it, or just not treat it with the respect that I felt it due, I would totally give them the evil eye! Glad you have a couch you love and that you’re a little protective of it…that’s cute :)

    And so are the cookies!

  • These look so beautiful, and I LOVE that plate, is it another Anthropologie find? I love my couch but it is old and wrecked and came with my rented flat. I am not yet fancy enough to own my own couch.

  • Classic and beautiful flavours with good quality ingredients. Can’t go wrong with that!

  • Looks terrific… someday I will master meringues! ;)

  • I also want to swim in glossy, unbaked meringue. SO GOOD. simple and delicious as always Joy!

  • I feel exactly the same about my couch – ideally I’d make my boyfriend sit in a different position every day. He is less keen on that idea. These cookies are pretty special though, I love the little crunch of cocoa nibs – I have a packet in my pantry at the moment so I may have to crack them out for this! Thanks Joy!

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