Dreamy Meringue Cookies for Your Christmas Platter

By Tara Holland
Tara Holland
Tara Holland
Tara Holland is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com. Copyright 2021 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
December 22, 2021 Updated: December 22, 2021

These light, airy, and slightly chewy meringue cookies are like chocolatey clouds studded with mini chocolate chips. They’re flavored with a touch of almond extract and dusted with freeze-dried strawberry powder (easily made by whizzing up strawberries in a spice grinder) for a subtle tartness to counteract the sweetness. But they’re highly adaptable.

If you’re a chocolate-lover, drizzle or dip them with melted chocolate. You could also sprinkle them with chopped nuts before baking, or fold in 3/4 cup of chopped nuts or sliced almonds with the mini chocolate chips. Not a fan of almond flavor? (I know it can be a love-hate thing!) Swap out the almond extract for vanilla.

Since the main ingredients are egg whites and sugar, the cookies are super light and melt-in-your-mouth irresistible. Bonus: They’re also gluten-free.

What Makes Meringue Cookies Chewy?

Adding the sugar in very gradually can help the stability and texture of the meringue, which helps promote chewiness. (Adding the sugar too fast or dumping it in all at once will cause the air to deflate.) However, the most effective way to create a soft interior and slightly chewy texture is by letting the cookies cool in a turned-off oven with the door cracked open.

I have followed this method when making pavlova or larger meringues for many years, following a British cook and household name, Delia Smith, who advises leaving meringues to cool in the oven overnight. However, these cookies are too small to leave in the oven for longer than 15 minutes, as they would dry out too quickly. If you do prefer a crisp, crunchy texture throughout, then close the oven door at the cooling stage.

How Do I Know If I’ve Overbeaten a Meringue?

When making meringues, the high amount of sugar that you beat into the eggs usually means it’s hard to overbeat the egg whites. However, light mousses and soufflés are a different story. Overbeaten egg whites will be dry with a foamy texture and won’t fold easily into the mixture. Luckily, with this recipe, the sugar will make the egg whites thick and glossy, which is precisely the texture that you want, by the time it’s all been added.

What Does Cream of Tartar Do?

This recipe calls for a touch of cream of tartar (or white vinegar if you don’t have any cream of tartar handy). Although not essential to use when beating egg whites, the acidity in cream of tartar or vinegar helps to stabilize the egg whites. In this case, it adds extra assurance that the mixture will hold up when folding in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Makes 32 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, or 1/4 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit on the counter until room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar or vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt and mix on low speed until foamy, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer still on high speed, slowly add the granulated sugar in tablespoon increments, and mix until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. You can test this by rubbing the mixture between your fingers—it should feel smooth and not grainy.

Add the almond or vanilla extract and mix until combined. The mixture will be glossy and stiff.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl and gently fold with a rubber spatula until combined. Add the mini chocolate chips and fold until evenly dispersed. The mixture will look similar to chocolate ice cream that has just started to melt.

Using a small cookie scoop (or a heaping tablespoon measure), scoop the batter onto the baking sheet into 1-inch mounds, spacing them about 3/4-inch apart. If the cookie scoop gets sticky, rinse under warm water, shaking off excess water before scooping again. Use a damp fork or teaspoon to make swirls or textures on the top of each mound if desired. Alternatively, pipe the cookies with a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F and bake until the cookies are firm but slightly spongy to touch, about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, grind the freeze-dried strawberries in a spice grinder into a powder. Alternatively, process the freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.

Place the baking sheet on a heatproof rack. Place the strawberry powder in a fine-mesh strainer and dust it over half of each cookie.

Turn the oven off. Return the baking sheet to the oven. Leave the door cracked open about 2 inches and let the cookies cool for 15 minutes in the oven. Serve the cookies warm or let cool completely.

Recipe Notes

The cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days. Do not refrigerate.

Alternatively, freeze meringues in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper for up to one month. To thaw, lay cookies on a wire rack and let them come to room temperature.

Tara Holland
Tara Holland is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com. Copyright 2021 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.