As with most desserts that involve beaten egg whites, it is best to make these meringues on a day with low humidity.
Yield: about 30 Rocky Road Meringues
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 ounces (about 2 cups) chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted nuts like pecans or walnuts
1.Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (95 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
2. Begin to beat the whites on medium speed. When they are foamy, add the cream of tartar and gradually start increase the speed to medium-high. Once the whites begin to form soft peaks, start to add the granulated sugar, a tablespoon at a time. The process of adding the sugar should be slow and should take several minutes—this will ensure a smooth meringue that's not gritty. When all of the sugar is added, add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat the meringue until it is thick and glossy and holds firm peaks.
3. Fit a pastry bag with a round tip with a 1/4-inch opening. If you don't have this equipment, you can use a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner as a makeshift piping bag. Spoon the thick meringue into the piping bag or the plastic bag and twist it closed at the top.
4. Hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and pipe a flat disc about 2 inches in diameter. Move the bag to the outer edge of the disc and pipe a circle around the edge, spiraling upward, leaving a space in the center so that you have formed a bowl shape with the meringue. Stop when your bowl is about 1 1/2-2 inches high. Repeat until you have used all of the meringue.
5. Bake the meringue shells in the 200 degree oven for 90 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. After 90 minutes, turn the oven off but leave the meringues in until completely cool.
6. While you wait for the meringues to bake and cool, prepare the ganache. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream into a small saucepan.
7. Heat the cream over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for a moment to soften the chocolate, then gently whisk everything together until your mixture is shiny and smooth. This is your ganache. Press a layer of plastic wrap on top and let it sit at room temperature to cool and thicken until you are ready to use it. It can also be refrigerated for later use, or to thicken it up quickly.
8. When the shells are cool and the ganache is the texture of peanut butter, fill a piping bag fitted with a large round attachment with the ganache. Alternately, you can use a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner. Pipe a generous amount of ganache into the center of each meringue, coming up over the top of the meringue shells. Sprinkle the tops of the chocolate with a big pinch of toasted nuts.
9. These Rocky Road Meringues are best enjoyed within a few hours of being made. In that time, the center of the meringues will soften a bit, but the outside will stay crisp. They can be kept longer, but the meringue will continue to soften over time. If you want to make them in advance, keep the components separate and assemble them right before you want to serve them.