Hi, friends! It’s been a busy few weeks here, cruising around the Caribbean, that whole needing a vacation after vacation thing and then there’s all the new recipes I’m dying to share with you, like yesterday! After spending the past few days in the kitchen and digging through emails, I think I’ve officially settled back in and I have a real treat for you today. Not only are we going to be talking about these fabulous mocha meringues, but I’m also sharing a cookbook that I cannot get enough of: Cuisine Nicoise.
I want to dive right into this book because it’s one of those cookbooks that you will just love. When it first arrived at my door, I knew this was something special. The cover alone draws you in and that’s just the beginning of the mouth watering photography that awaits you.
Before I start to get completely carried away with all the food, I should definitely fill you on the author, Hillary Davis. Hillary a food journalist, cooking instructor, and writer of the food blog Marche Dimanche. I think she is a truly talented writer and her passion for food and Cuisine Nicoise is evident on every page of this book.
Right form the start, Hillary paints a picture of Bar-sur-Loup, the village where she lived, inviting you in and instantly transporting you. Bar-sur-Loup is the area surrounding Nice where they cook, as Hillary says, “in the style of Nice.” Nicoise cooking is comforting and homey, yet light and vibrant all at the same time. There is an emphasis on fresh produce and fish and using what’s local. As you continue reading, Hillary takes you around the surrounding areas and introduces you to different characters, such as Madame, who taught her traditional cuisine Nicoise.
After reading the book and cooking from it, I can tell you that I loved reading it as much as I enjoyed cooking form it. To me that’s what makes a cookbook really stand out. All the recipes have a story behind them and stem from somewhere. There is personality on every page of it! I should also note that I think this is a great cookbook for any skill level. Whether you are a culinary professional or just learning your way around the kitchen, there is something for everyone. The recipes are easy to follow and nothing is too rigid. If you don’t have a certain ingredient, you can use what you have on hand and adjust recipes to your taste.
The only hard part about this is deciding what to make first. The photos alone will make you want to devour the entire book. I mean just look at that Goat Cheese Ravioli with Wild Mushrooms! The book is full of comforting dishes like Savory Rice Pudding and Broccoli Polenta as well as smaller bites such as the Naked Meat Balls and Pistachio Parmesan Chickpea Fries. After torturing myself for a few days and bookmarking almost every recipe, I finally decided to go with dessert. I know, jaw dropping, isn’t it?
I love meringues to begin with, but there’s something about the way the Giant Mocha Meringues looked that instantly drew me in. I mean they’re like giant puffy clouds you kind of want to curl up on, especially in this frigid weather. The type of dessert that’s comforting and homey, but light at the same time.
I followed Hillary’s directions exactly and they turned out lovely. They have a slight almond flavor and the dusting of cocoa and espresso powder is perfect. The photo below is pre-bake and pre-swirl. I wanted you to get a visual on how they looked before they went into the oven so you can get an idea on how big they are. After you dust them with the cocoa/espresso powder combo, you swirl it through with a knife and wind up with a lovely marble effect.
You could also leave these plain and Hillary offers a few suggestions on how to change them up and put your own spin on them, which I love! I suggest making them as is, you won’t be disappointed. Paired with a great cup of coffee these are the perfect afternoon treat to help take the chill off, and they also make an elegant dessert your guests will love.
I hope you enjoy these meringues as much as I did and here is the link to Cuisine Nicoise on amazon. I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself! Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week with some new desserts!
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
- 2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
- 12 large egg whites, room temp
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cream of tartar
- Arrange oven shelves to allow for maximum height above both shelves. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 230 degrees.
- Sift together cocoa and espresso powder into a bowl.
- Put the egg whites, sugar, almond extract, salt, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan over low heat; and stir continually.
- Put a candy thermometer into the pan and when they reach 99 degrees F., about 4-5 minutes, take the pan off the heat and pour egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Beat the whites until they are stiff and can hold their shape, about 8 minutes. It may take longer depending on weather and other variables. *Mine went for about 15-20 minutes.
- Using a big serving spoon, scoop a large amount to make a giant cookie and place it on the baking pan. You can pile them high. Continue to make large cookies, leaving an inch or two between for expansion as they cook.
- Sieve the espresso and cocoa powder over the top of the cookies, then use a knife to swirl it through each one.
- Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Rotate the pans, then bake for an additional 30-60 minutes, until the cookies are crisp on the outside and still chewy on the inside. The time it takes to cook them depends on the size of the meringues. If they feel firm to the touch and are no longer sticky, they are ready to take out of the oven.
- Cool cookies for 15 minutes on pans, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for two days.
I got about 12 meringues out of this batch and the bake time was about 2 hours.
If you want to make a smaller batch, I recommend halving this recipe.