Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Filled Meringue Kisses

I don't usually take sweet stuffs and will always try to reduce the amount of sugar in all my cooking and baking. But something about meringue cookies that evokes my sweet sense and I felt like making this dessert cookie this weekend. On top of that, I was planning to pack some baked goods for my Easter celebrating friends and that was really a good excuse to do this recipe as one recipe yields alot of cookies and I must spread the calories around!    

I adapted a Pavlova recipe from the Saveur magazine as I find it very different from all the other recipes I have seen in cookbooks. There were cornstarch and vinegar added to the beaten egg whites besides the main ingredients of egg whites and sugar only. Both these additional ingredients were said to stabilize the egg whites and increase the lightness of the meringue. Which I found was very true. The texture of these cookies were crisp on the outside and billowy soft in the inside and I think it is fair to say this meringue cookies is so much easier to make compared to the macaron, which basically comprised of the same ingredients of egg white and sugar.
The recipe called for 2-1/2 cups sugar added into 6 beaten egg whites and I reduced it to 1-1/2 cup  but I think using 1 cup will be sufficient. There is not much involved in the making of the meringue but a kitchen mixer is definitely helpful as the egg whites have to be whisked  for a longer time of a total of 15 mins. Without a good electric beater, I think it is impossible to get the light and volume maximized meringue! The cornstarch was mixed with the vinegar and some vanilla essence before being added to the soft peaked egg whites. Don't be alarmed when the mixture turns starchy and pasty while sitting and waiting to be added into the egg whites, keep stirring to remain in heavy liquid form. The most work to be done is the piping part and the star tip is the one to be used to get the nice kisses pattern. I held my piping bag upright with the tip above the parchment paper lined baking pan and squeezed while counting to three to get the cookies more or less the same size. I made a simple ganache by melting semisweet chocolate chips in hot whipping cream.

As the meringue cookies don't sit still, after the filling and sandwiching, I placed them in my large muffin tins, standing with support by the sides. It makes it easier to have at least 6 or 12 cavities in these muffin tins as you work along, you fill up the tins with one sandwiched cookie at one time and by the time you finished the first round of 6 or 12 cookies, the next cookie will go into the first tin when the first one that was made earlier, which by then would have dried up and the ganache hardens. This can avoid messy meringues.

Recipe (adapted from Saveur Magazine):

Ingredients :
Meringue Cookies (recipe can be reduced by half):
6 egg whites (at room temperature)
1-1/2 cups fine sugar
1/4 cup Cornflour
1 tbsp Distilled vinegar
1/2 tbsp Vanilla essence

Chocolate Ganache Filling (for filling to make 60 cookies):
100g semisweet Chocolate chips
100ml Heavy or Whipping Cream

Method :
Meringue Cookies
1)Line 2 large cookie pans with parchment paper. Get ready a large piping bag with a star tip. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2)Beat the egg whites till slightly frothy. Add in sugar in 2 batches and continue to beat till attain soft peaks (about 10 mins on medium speed).
3)Dissolve the cornflour in the vinegar and add in vanilla essence. Keep stirring till ready to add into beaten egg whites.
4)With the beater continue whisking, add in the cornflour and vinegar mixture and beat till stiff peak (about 5 to 7 mins), when the egg whites has  tripled in volume and can hold its peaks when the balloon whisker is lifted up.
5)Working in 2 or 3 batches, scoop some of the meringue into the piping bag and pipe out uniform and small sized cookies onto the cookie pans, allowing spaces of 1 inch between them. You should be able to get about 120 to 135 cookies.
6)Reduce the oven temperature to 215F and then place in the piped out meringue into the oven and bake for 1 hour 10 mins. Rotate the pans every 20 mins for even baking. Once done, turn off the heat and let the cookies sit in the oven till completely cooled. (about 2 hours)

Chocolate Ganache
1)Heat the heavy cream in a pan till rolling boil.
2)Remove from heat and pour into the chocolate chips in a separate bowl. Keep whisking till all chocolate is dissolved and completely mixed in with the cream.
3)Let the ganache cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir before use. Spoon the ganache into a piping bag.

To Assemble :
1)Take one cookie and pipe in the chocolate ganache. Don't overfill, just slightly larger than the piping tip. Sandwich the cookie and ganache with another cookie. Let the ganache set with the cookies in a muffin tin. Continue with the rest.
2)Place the cookies in very dry places as moisture can soften the cookie shells.

Makes : 60 filled cookies

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