As Wikipedia tells us:
Meringue, (pron.: /məˈræŋ/, mə-rang) is a type of dessert, often associated with Swiss and French cuisine, made from whipped egg whites and sugar, and occasionally an acid such as cream of tartar or a small amount of vinegar. A binding agent such as cornstarch or gelatin may also be added. The addition of powdered sugar, which usually contains corn starch, to the uncooked meringue produces a pavlova, a national dish of Australia and New Zealand. The key to the formation of a good meringue is the formation of stiff peaks formed by denaturing the protein ovalbumin (a protein in the egg whites) via mechanical shear.
Meringues are often flavoured with vanilla and a small amount of almond or coconut extract although if these extracts are based on an oil infusion then this, if used in excess, may inhibit the egg whites into forming a foam due to the fat from the oil. They are light, airy and sweet confections. Homemade meringues are often chewy and soft with a crisp exterior, although a uniform crisp texture may be achieved at home, whilst commercial meringues are crisp throughout.
The merengue, however, is a type of music and style of dance from the Dominican Republic:
Merengue (pron.:/məˈrɛŋɡeɪ/) is a style of Dominican music and dance. Partners hold each other in a closed position. The leader holds the follower’s waist with the leader’s right hand, while holding the follower’s right hand with the leader’s left hand at the follower’s eye level. Partners bend their knees slightly left and right, thus making the hips move left and right. The hips of the leader and follower move in the same direction throughout the song. Partners may walk sideways or circle each other, in small steps. They can switch to an open position and do separate turns without letting go each other’s hands or releasing one hand. During these turns they may twist and tie their handhold into intricate pretzels. Other choreographies are possible.
Merengue was made the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic by Rafael Trujillo. In an origin’s version, the dance originated from the slaves working in sugar beet fields. These slaves were connected to one another by a chain strapped to their ankles and had to walk in such a manner as to drag one leg.
Although the tempo of the music may be frenetic, the upper body is kept majestic and turns are slow, typically four beats/steps per complete turn.
In the social dancing of the United States the “empalizada” style is replaced by exaggerated Cuban motion, taught in chain ballroom studios for dances of Latin American origin (cha-cha-cha,rumba, mambo, salsa).
Several weeks ago (sorry it’s taken me so long to get ’round to this post, but life has been intervening *sigh*), I made us some cream puffs and I made the filling from scratch (essentially, I made three cups of vanilla pudding, using Splenda granular in lieu of the sugar and 1% milk). This meant I had three perfectly good egg whites that had no purpose. I hated to just throw them out, so I placed them in a scrupulously clean container and set them in the ‘fridge.
What to do, what to do?
After some thought and some perusing, I decided to take inspiration from my Splenda Simple & Sensational Recipes cookbook and do my own take on their Chocolate Chip Meringue Crisps. Me being me, I reduced the amount of sugar (their recipe calls for Splenda for baking, which is half sugar; I reduced the amount of sugar even further), used no-sugar-added semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips, and adjusted the recipe for three egg whites instead of two.
And peoples, these were YUMMY!
Because these have so little sugar, they don’t have the same shine or brown the way that a full sugar meringue would, but they taste incredibly indulgent — like cotton candy with chunks of nuts and sugar-free chocolate chips.
IMPORTANT! When working with egg whites, remember to use a scrupulously clean bowl and scrupulously clean beaters, as the least spot of oil or fat will prevent the eggs whites from whipping properly. Also remember than when the humidity is high, your whites may not whip up quite as easily or well as they normally would.
These taste so yummy, you’ll being dancing the merengue while they bake 🙂 (Go on, take a few minutes from your day and watch — it’ll make your heart smile and get your feet to tapping 😉 LOL!)
If you have fewer or more than three egg whites, you can adjust the recipe up or down easily enough.
No-Sugar-Added Chocolate Chip Meringue and Nut Crisps (Makes 3 to 4 dozen crisps, depending upon size)
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped nuts, toasted (suggest walnuts or pecans)
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Splenda granular (or other favorite sugar-free sweetener that measures for measure like sugar)
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar-free semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 200F.
- Toast or bake nuts in a shallow pan about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool.
- Beat egg whites and vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
- Gradually (a tablespoon or two at a time) add in Splenda and then sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
- Spoon rounded teaspoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
- Bake for two hours. Cool slightly on cookie sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.