Little Chocolate Clouds from Cleo Coyle

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"I had some dreams, they were
clouds in my coffee…”

One of songwriter Carly Simon’s many inspired lines was my inspiration for today’s recipe post.

"When coffee dreams,
it dreams of chocolate..."
(And so do I)
With warmer weather finally making its appearance here in New York City, and the threat of sleeveless tops and shorts coming at me like a Sisyphus boulder, I knew my craving for something chocolate needed to be tempered into something light.

Then spring cleaning started me thinking about using up my foods before they hit their dreaded expiration dates. And what was on the cusp of being ejected from my fridge? Eggs!

The result was this recipe for Little Chocolate Clouds. These simple chocolate meringues are easy to whip up and bake. They are bursting with chocolate flavor yet still light and with the added bonus of protein....




Serve these little clouds as a light, after-dinner treat or eat them as a satisfying coffee break snack. You can even float one in a hot coffee or espresso. It will melt into the liquid, giving you a lovely hint of mocha in your cup.

My husband, Marc (a tough critic) loves these sweet, little morsels. He describes them as "little chocolate cotton candies," which pefectly captures their melt-in-your mouth appeal, especially after you soften their crunchy exteriors by dipping them into a cup of warm coffee or tea.



The only tricky technique in making this simple
recipe is whipping up the egg whites...


To watch a quick video tutorial on
how to whip egg whites properly,
click on the little white arrow
in the window below.

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If you don't see a video above, watch the
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 clicking here.


To download a free PDF of
this recipe that you can print,
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Cleo Coyle's
Little Chocolate Clouds


Makes 24 to 30 cookies, depending on size

Ingredients:

4 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to stabilize the egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Optional decorations: chocolate sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped nuts

Method:

Step 1 – Before You Begin: First preheat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Some notes to help you get the best results here: Start with a mixing bowl that is glass, metal, or ceramic. The bowl must be free of grease for your egg whites to whip up properly. (Grease clings to plastic bowls, which is why you should not use plastic.) Also, for best results, your egg whites should be room temperature. I simply set my cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 2 to 3 minutes before cracking.

Step 2 – Whip Egg Whites: Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt into bowl. Using an electric mixer or handheld whisk, begin to whip the whites. When you see soft peaks begin to form (see "soft peaks" photo below), continue beating while slowly sprinkling in the sugar. When the egg whites have become stiff and glossy (see "stiff and glossy" photo below), stop whipping. Sift the cocoa over the egg whites and gently fold into the mix. The whites will deflate a little, but that’s okay.



Egg Whites Beaten to "Soft Peaks"








Egg Whites Beaten "Stiff and Glossy"






Sifting in the Unsweetened Cocoa





Folding in the Unsweetened Cocoa




Step 3 – Form Little Chocolate Clouds: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make rustic little chocolate clouds by dropping batter by heaping teaspoons onto the paper. As a fun option and to create variety, try sprinkling some with with finely chopped nuts, others with shredded coconut, or chocolate sprinkles, or a few mini chocolate chips.




Step 4 – Bake in the preheated (300° F.) oven for about 25 to 35 minutes. Meringues should be dry and somewhat firm on the outside (not hard just firm) and still gooey in the center. Remove from oven and carefully slide the parchment paper off the hot pan and onto a rack to cool. Note: Warm meringues will stick to the parchment paper. But as they cool, they will harden. Then you can easily lift them free and…









Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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