Meringues, made properly, can be a delightful cookies: crisp on the outside, chewy within, with the sweetness offset by the chocolate coating on the bottom. An additional advantage of these cookies is that they keep extremely well, tasting as good at the end of the holiday as at the beginning (if they last that long).
Chocolate Dipped Meringues
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s recipe for Meringue Mushrooms
4 ounces egg whites (1/2 cup, about 4 whites), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
about 7 ounces chocolate for melting and dipping the baked meringues
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two half sheet pans (rimmed cookie sheets) with parchment.
Beat the eggs at slow speed until foamy, and add the salt. Beat on medium for a minute until the whites hold a soft shape. Continuing to beat, add the sugar a heaping Tbl. at a time, beating for 20-30 seconds between spoonfuls. After half the sugar has been added, mix in the vanilla, and continue adding sugar. After all the sugar has been added, whip the whites on high speed until the sugar is dissolved (you can feel the mixture for grittiness by rubbing a small amount between your fingers. When there is no grittiness, stop beating). It should take about 15 minutes of beating.
You can pipe out mounds of meringue, or just drop blobs from a spoon. You should get about 3 dozen or so, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, and 3/4 inch in height.
Bake for an hour, or until meringues lift easily from the parchment. Let the meringues cool in the turned-off oven, with the door propped open a bit.
Dip the cooled meringues in melted chocolate and let set on parchment.