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fluff puff stuff

Recipe: chocolate cinnamon hazelnut cacao nib meringues

Well, I finally overcame my issues with square photos, took the plunge, and got an Instagram account. You can find me and my random shenanigans over at @jenyuphoto. Rather than bore you with stories of skiing slush and trouble shooting our broken washing machine, let’s talk about meringues. I’m specifically referring to giant palm-sized clouds of sugar. While the huckleberry meringues were beautiful to look at, it felt like I was just biting into a big puffball of sugar with a veneer of huckleberry sauce. So I got to thinking about and researching other flavors and textures.

superfine sugar, cacao nibs, toasted hazelnuts, egg whites, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, salt

I found a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria for chocolate cinnamon meringues as big as the ones I made based on Ottolenghi’s recipe. It’s a similar technique, too – pouring hot sugar into the egg whites. This is what creates the chewy interior of the meringue (which I love). The bitter, earthy, and spicy flavors of unsweetened cocoa powder and ground cinnamon would temper the sugary sweetness of the meringue. Then, taking a cue from another Ottolenghi recipe (the pistachio-rose meringues), I decided to coat the base of each meringue with a combination of chopped toasted hazelnuts and cacao nibs. It sounded like a good combination in my brain.

ready to bake the sugar

whisk the cocoa powder and cinnamon together

chop the hazelnuts

toss the hazelnuts and cacao nibs in a bowl

Giant meringues have become my obsession of late. It all started because I had so many leftover egg whites hanging out in my refrigerator that I needed to find a way to use them up. You can also purchase egg whites in cartons if you don’t want a ton of leftover yolks (or make ice cream… I’m sure someone will vote for making ice cream). To me, meringues are such pretty and delightful treats to hand to someone as a gift. I wanted to practice and build a repertoire of different flavors. I consider this version to be a somewhat more substantial snack with the nuts and cacao nibs. They add a nice crunch to the already crisp and delicate outer shell of the meringue. I’m also getting better at taking the sugar out of the oven before it liquifies. Practice practice practice.

add a pinch of salt to the egg whites

start whipping the egg whites when you take the sugar out of the oven

whipped into meringue after adding the hot sugar

What I like about swirling ingredients into the meringue has to do with both aesthetics – swirls are pretty – and distribution of the flavor throughout the confection. It may be tempting to mix the cocoa powder and cinnamon into the meringue more than you should, but just give it two gentle folds. When you go to scoop and shape the individual meringues, there will be more swirling and mixing. Spread the chopped hazelnuts and cacao nibs on a flat plate and gather them in the center in an even layer. Drop your newly scooped meringue right onto that delicious landing pad so the bottom of the meringue gets a nice base. Use a flat, wide spatula to pick the meringue up from the bed of goodies and settle it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Expect debris to fall from the bottom of the meringue. Any leftover nuts and nibs should be sprinkled atop the meringues where they will hopefully stick to the gooey tops.

fold the cocoa and cinnamon into the meringue

drop a spoonful onto the hazelnuts and cacao nibs

gently settle the meringues onto a baking sheet

sprinkle extra nuts and nibs on the tops

I adore these meringues – more than the huckleberry meringues. Knowing what you know about my feelings for huckleberries (they are my favorite) and my feelings about chocolate (not a huge fan), that is saying quite a lot. There is just so much going on with each bite. It had different kinds of crunch from the nibs, the nuts, the meringue. And don’t forget the chewy center. The non-sweet components took the edge off the overpowering sugar of the meringue, balancing sweet with bitter, nutty, earthy. Jeremy really enjoyed these with a cup of good black coffee. I took some to our neighbors who also sampled the huckleberry meringues. When I asked which one they liked better, Herb grinned and said, “I’m not sure – I think I need to sample them both again!”

chocolatey clouds

i really love the addition of the cacao nibs and hazelnuts

chewy inside

Chocolate Cinnamon Hazelnut Cacao Nib Meringues
[print recipe]
based on this recipe from Leite’s Culinaria

300g (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
150g (about 5) egg whites, room temperature
pinch salt
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped fine
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet and shake to even out the distribution. Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with balloon whip attachment. Bake the sugar for 6-7 minutes until the edges just begin to melt (keep checking, it happens faster than you think). As soon as the sugar grains at the edge start to liquify, turn the mixer on high speed. Remove the sugar from the oven and (using oven mitts) carefully lift the parchment paper at the edges and pour the hot (but still dry) sugar into the egg whites along the side of the bowl. Don’t worry if some of it doesn’t go in because it melted – it’ll be fine without it.

Whisk the meringue until the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to between 140°F and 160°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. While the meringue is whipping, mix the cocoa powder and ground cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the hazelnuts and cacao nibs together. Spread the nuts and nibs in a layer on a flat plate.

When the meringue is cooled, remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle the cocoa-cinnamon mixture over the top of the meringue. Use a large spatula or spoon to gently fold the mixture into the meringue, 2 strokes maximum. Don’t overmix it – you want big streaks. Scoop a large spoonful of meringue onto the hazelnuts and cacao nibs. Using a flat spatula, lift the meringue from the plate and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining meringue. Sprinkle any extra nuts and nibs over the meringues. Bake 3-4 hours until the meringues sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Makes 6-8 meringues (about 4-inch diameter and 2 1/2 inches high).

more goodness from the use real butter archives

huckleberry meringues the concorde: chocolate meringue mousse cake huckleberry mess eton mess

10 nibbles at “fluff puff stuff”

  1. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    Personally, I’m attracted to these more- mostly because it’s easier for me to find hazelnuts/cacao nibs than hucks. These look so gorgeous (they kind of remind me of Milky Way’s), and they sound so deliciously toasty and nutty.

  2. Kristin says:

    Shoot, I have never been a meringue fan, but that shot of the interior might have shoved me into the “I’ve got to make this!” camp. I’m sure I’ve never had anything approaching a good meringue, and I happen to have been gifted some cacao nibs, so I should probably go for it! And checking my instagram feed just got a whole lot more exciting!

  3. Giselle @ The Busy Spatula says:

    This looks amazing. The swirls of hazelnuts and cacao nibs make such a gorgeous meringue! I’m totally in love with it.

  4. farmerpam says:

    Wish you were my neighbor.

  5. Sarah says:

    I don’t know you, have never been skiing, and have little desire to live in the mountains. However, I very much enjoy your stories–not a bore at all. I have no doubt that an anecdote about a broken washing machine, told in your voice, would be worth reading. Thank you for giving me something pleasant to read (and lovely to look at) before I roll out of bed in the morning. -Sarah from London

  6. Leslie says:

    My mouth is drooling…it’s really quite embarrassing how you continuously do this to me as I wander around the grocery store for ingredients in a daze. But, the meringues have eluded me because of living in humid Florida. I REALLY have to try these but don’t want to waste ingredients and end up with an inedible mess. Do you have any suggestions for our climate?

    (Still waiting for new puppy stories, btw!) ;-)

  7. Gioconda Novellino says:

    Your stories are never boring, don´t say that!!!!!

  8. Pey-Lih says:

    I am having a melt down with my laptop. My keyboard is not working. Eating one of those would make me so happy right now! I will make this one over the weekend….hazelnut and chocolate nibs. Thank you for the recipe, Jen!

  9. jenyu says:

    Heather – yeah, I know not everyone can find hucks (although you can always substitute blueberries). But I do like the more substantial bite you get from one of these meringues with all the nuts and chocolate :)

    Kristin – these are pretty yummy :)

    Giselle – thank you!

    farmerpam – aww! xo

    Sarah – you are incredibly sweet! xo

    Leslie – I think for humid climates, you really need to let the meringues dry out in a low oven. Let it go for as many hours as it takes. That said, once they’re out of the oven, you probably need to eat them within a day to avoid sogginess. Good luck! (P.S. I first made meringues when I was a kid in southern Virginia – air conditioning helps!).

    Gioconda – ah, you are just too kind! :)

    Pey-Lih – you’re welcome!

  10. jill says:

    Never bored, my dear. Sometimes, like I’ve told you, I save several posts for a Saturday morning coffee….just like now.

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