Chocolate Chunk Meringues

cookiesWhenever I visit my parents, I bake. Even if it isn’t super convenient. Even if we’re all dieting. For whatever reason, when I get in their kitchen (which isn’t even my childhood kitchen–the room was a laundry room when I lived here, and my cousin’s bedroom before that) I get the itch. Maybe because there are other hands to hold the children. Maybe because I want to feed my family. And maybe, just a little, because I want to show off and have my parents ooh and ahh over my skills.

Of course, they don’t always ooh and ahh. This is partially because I experiment. Either I try recipes I’ve never made before, or I make them up on the fly, or a little of both. I’m a renegade that way. Baking is a love and a challenge for me because my creative brain wants to overtake my technical brain in ways that don’t always work out in the oven. Most bakers will tell you STICK TO A RECIPE. I like to make mine up. But I also like to think I have enough technical know-how that I’m qualified to do so. This recipe, I think, is proof that I do. My dad says they’re like cotton candy with chocolate inside. My mom says they’re like eating sweet air. My brother said they’re weird, but you know brothers.

So:

Chocolate Chunk Meringues

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

a moderate pinch of cream of tartar (put your fingers in that jar and literally pinch)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 bar 70% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Lindt), finely chopped (with maybe a few larger chunks just for fun)

 

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Add one third cup of the sugar and whisk on high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the rest of the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold in your chocolate (the egg whites should encase the chocolate–start with about half the chocolate and add the rest in bits, as your egg whites might be slightly bigger or smaller than mine, and you might get more or less air into them). Using two spoons, spoon one- to two-inch globs onto your baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are firm but still white and they feel light and hollow. Cool completely. Enjoy.

The Christmas Quarantine

You wouldn't guess this boy was sick, would you?
You wouldn’t guess this boy was sick, would you?

On December 15th, I came down with a fever. A rash started to form on my hands. Then my feet. My throat ached. If I’d ever experienced anything like it before, it was probably back in kindergarten when I had the chickenpox. During a doctor’s visit during which he called my rash “impressive” and my tonsils “nasty,” I learned that it was definitely not strep, but some sort of viral infection, possibly hand, foot, and mouth disease. Treat the symptoms, the doc said. It will go away.

But would it go away in time for Christmas? Continue reading → The Christmas Quarantine

30 for 30: Visit Leavenworth, WA

I didn't actually take any pictures in Leavenworth, so here's a cute one of the boy in the snow the next day.
I didn’t actually take any pictures in Leavenworth, so here’s a cute one of the boy in the snow the next day.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Four grandparents and an uncle spent the weekend doting on Sam: he loved it. I made the best turkey I’ve ever made (this recipe is going to become traditional in my house) and we all ate and talked and laughed and it was really wonderful. The next day, instead of participating in Black Friday, we all hopped in a nice, big, rental SUV and headed up to Leavenworth: the idyllic little German town that Ian and I have been wanting to visit since we each moved to Washington.

There was snow on the ground. That was pretty cool. All the architecture in town (or, at least, downtown) is very Bavarian–even the Starbucks and the Cold Stone. There are lots of little German restaurants with beer and schnitzel and sausage, but utilitarian that I am (correction: utilitarian that I’ve become since having a child), I chose the first little restaurant I saw. It did have German sausage on the menu, which I ordered. There was no wait, and despite the tiny dining room, they did have a table big enough for us. Sam was very happy there and ate a nice grilled cheese sandwich and a whole lot of sauerkraut off my plate (I’m so proud of my boy’s strange palate). From there we wandered the streets, saw some nutcrackers, bought some taffy. We visited the Christkindlmarkt, which was sort of why we went on that particular day, though it turned out to be little more than a wintertime farmer’s market. There were some carolers, which Sam loved. I’d say it was an okay time. Not the overwhelming success I’d hoped for, but not a lost day, either.

It’s interesting to think about how the trip would have gone if we didn’t have the baby. I doubt we’d have hauled our family two hours there and two hours back again in the first place. If we did, we would have waited for a table in a German restaurant and ordered beer and eaten at a leisurely pace with no screaming at our table. I might have looked up more often to see the sights instead of tracking my toddler as he moved through the crowds, refusing to hold anyone’s hand.

And yet Sam’s reactions were the best part of the trip. He loves to be out and about. He loves to see new people and new things. He had no idea where he was or why it was supposed to be special, but he was happy. Which made the rest of us happy, too.