A candy bar in a cookie suit
Cookie season can be hazardous to your waistline. So keep in mind Julia Child’s motto: Everything in moderation.
But if you think you might overdo it, you’ll be better off if you snub the usual dough boys for these lean and luscious gems — chocolate-dipped coconut meringue drops.
Each one is like a candy bar in a cookie suit. The hero of this story? Egg whites. They bind the other ingredients — the coconut and dried cranberries — and provide a nice chewy texture, without adding any fat. There is fat in the coconut and chocolate, but the overall fat and calorie content is lower than butter-based cookies.
This is one of those recipes for which the fresher the egg, the better. Fresh egg whites have more body than older ones, adding greater volume and stability to your cookies. The whites and yolks should be separated when the eggs are cold. But the whites should be room temperature before beating. The quickest way to warm your whites to room temperature is to put them in a clean bowl, then put that bowl into a larger bowl of hot water.
When baking, use a thermometer. These cookies need to be baked at 275 degrees, and some ovens just don’t work well at such a low temp. Also, note that these meringues are meant to be beige and chewy, not white and crispy.
Start to finish: 55 minutes
(30 minutes active)
Makes 5 dozen
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries until finely chopped. Set aside. Spread the coconut on a third baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake on the oven’s middle shelf until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven to 275 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine cooled coconut and cranberries.
In a large bowl, with electric mixer beat egg whites with the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the coconut cranberry mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoons 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meringue drops are beige (they will be soft at the center). Put sheet pans on cooling racks and let cool completely.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave, stirring occasionally. Dip the bottoms of the cookies into chocolate. Set chocolate side up on parchment to cool. Refrigerate to set chocolate faster. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Nutrition information per cookie: 50 calories; 25 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 1 g protein; 10 mg sodium.