Growing up, every holiday my grandmother made us a very special treat, her incredible meringues. A light delicious dry cookie made with eggs and sugar and whipped together and set in the oven over night sometimes chocolate was added, other times walnuts. My favorite is when she added both!
In the 18th century there were no cookies as we know them today, but people did make meringues. The beginnings of meringue can be found in François Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Roïal et Bourgeois, 1691, translated in The Court and Country Cook in 1702, p. 103.
“Dry Meringues Having caus’d the Whites of four new-laid Eggs to be whipt, as before, till they rise up to a Snow, let four Spoonfuls of very dry Powder-sugar, be put into it, and well temper’d with a Spoon: Then let all be set over a gentle Fire, to be dried a little at two several times, and add some Pistachoes, that are pounded and dried a lttle in the Stove. Afterwards, they are pounded and dried a little in the Stove. Afterwards, they are to be dress’d as the others, and bak’d in the Oven somewhate leisurely, with a little Fire underneath, and more on the top: When they are sufficiently done, and very dry, let they be taken out, and cut with a Knife: Lastly, as soon as they are somewhat cold, let them be laid upon Paper, and set into the Stove to be kept dry.”
Today using the American Heritage Finely Grated Chocolate Drink, available at Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop, we have a simple recipe for meringues that takes the mystery out of making them and taste as heavenly as my grandmother’s. Enjoy!
Meringues puffs were very popular with colonial Americans, but without any modern conveniences they must have been a challenge to make. The colonial Americans used granulated sugar sprinkled over their baking pan to create a non-stick surface before dropping on the meringue. Sugar does not burn at such a low temperature and it successfully keeps the meringue puffs from sticking to the pan. Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies Preparation time: 10 minutes Baking time: 1hour and 10 minutes
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Sprinkle two cookie sheets with granulated sugar and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the whites using an electric mixer until frothy, add the salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating, until the whites become opaque and have soft peaks. Begin adding the sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. Once the meringue become very white, shiny and stiff gently fold in the grated chocolate.
Using two teaspoons, drop spoonfuls of the meringue onto the cookie sheets. Place in the oven and bake until the meringue dry completely and are crisp, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Transfer the meringues into an airtight container to keep them crisp until you are ready to serve.
From the Hearth of Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop
Your Humble Servant,
Mrs. Newark Jackson (Amey)