Chocolate-Pecan Meringue Cookies are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and so delicious! I dare you to eat just one! Easy and gluten free.
We took our daughter back to college, and I'm drowning my sorrows in a pecan dessert, just like last year. This time, it's chocolate-pecan meringue cookies. Last time, it was no-churn salted butter pecan ice cream.
The pecans are a coincidence. The rest is a predictable case of the Mommy blues.
Who's going to watch Bachelor in Paradise with me tonight? Is it even acceptable for me to view it alone, minus my teenage daughter and one or more of her friends?
I know some of you are scratching your heads, but hear me out. I watched the original Bachelor season and then ignored the show for years, thinking I certainly had better things to do. Then, when my daughter reached high school and got on the Bachelor/Bachelorette bandwagon, I couldn't resist joining in.
It was something we enjoyed together, and I wouldn't trade that time with her for anything. I'd better keep watching so we can compare notes...Anyway, I made my first batch of these chocolate-pecan meringue cookies last week, while my daughter was still home. She loved the taste but thought their appearance was "unappealing." (This was before I decided to sprinkle them with cocoa.)
She got me thinking about how to make the cookies look prettier, so I did some research. Wouldn't you know it, there's an Italian version with hazelnuts called "brutti ma buoni," meaning "ugly but good."
Too funny! You can always count on Italians to tell it like it is.
These cookies are like brutti ma buoni's American cousin. They're made with brown sugar meringue (doesn't that sound glorious?), lots of coarsley chopped pecans, some vanilla and a bit of cocoa to provide a hint of chocolate flavor.
They're gluten free, so there's no flour to make them heavy. They're crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and so addictive!
Eating them is like munching on nutty, marshmallow-y popcorn.
The original recipe for "pecan kisses" was much sweeter and contained no chocolate, so I had to make my adjustments until the cookies were just right. After baking three batches in the past week, I can't imagine life without them.
They're a huge hit in my household, no matter what they look like!
Besides, I'd rather have brutti ma buoni than belissimi ma schifosi (beautiful but disgusting).
More cookies to try
- Hazelnut Biscotti
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Anisette Cookies
- Almond-Flavored Pizzelle
- Tri-Color Italian Cookies
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Great American Recipes, Pecan Kisses, 1988)
Chocolate-Pecan Meringue Cookies
- 1 extra-large egg white
- 8 ounces pecan halves coarsely chopped (two cups chopped)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two large baking sheets with baking spray.
- Separate your egg while it's cold, placing the egg white in a medium bowl. (Reserve the yolk in a separate container, cover it and refrigerate for another use.)
- Coarsely chop your pecans and set them aside.
- Add your cream of tartar and salt to the egg white. Mix with an electric hand mixer, using a whisk attachment, if you have one. (A stand mixer doesn't work well for such a small amount.) Mix just until it is very frothy and starting to come together.
- Gradually add your brown sugar, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed. (It helps to place your bowl on top of a kitchen towel to prevent sliding.)
- Add your vanilla and ½ teaspoon cocoa. Beat again on high speed, until the mixture is thick and stiff, similar to marshmallow fluff. (See the photo in the post.) It's okay if the meringue peaks fall over and aren't super stiff; mine never reach that stage.)
- Stir your chopped pecans into the meringue. Using a scoop or two teaspoons (one to scoop, one to scrape), place walnut-sized mounds of meringue onto your pans, at least 1 ½ inches apart. You should be able to fit a dozen on one large sheet pan.
- Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or just until they are puffy and set. Turn off the heat and let the cookies stay in the oven for another two minutes to dry.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and sprinkle some cocoa on top of them by placing a bit of cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and gently shaking it over the cookies. While the cookies are still warm, carefully transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
- Store the cooled-off cookies at room temperature, laying them flat in a single layer in a plastic container, then placing wax paper on top before starting the next layer. They should stay good for three days, but they're usually gone before that!