There are many beautiful crabapple blossoms in my neighborhood - I get a surge of joy just seeing all those luscious shades of pink! Joy will also be abundant when you taste these chocolate meringues. Make them with the best chocolate powder you can find (I used Drost) and they will compliment anything you pair them with, from coffee to strawberries and cream.
Chocolate Meringues with Strawberries and Cream (serves 8, makes 24 generous cookies)
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp white vinegar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp chocolate powder (Drost)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound (16 oz.) strawberries, cleaned
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine egg whites, salt, and white vinegar together in a bowl. Beat mixture with an electric mixer high speed until soft peaks form. Combine the 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl and add to the whites in thirds, whisking each addition in completely. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon generous tablespoons of the meringue onto the sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 200 degrees F., and bake for another hour. Turn off the heat and cool the meringues in the oven for an hour, propping the door open with a wooden spoon.
Meanwhile whip the cream together with the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar. Slice 1/2 cup of strawberries into chunks and place in a small bowl. Crush with a fork or pastry cutter and add to the whipped cream, folding in with a spatula. Slice the remaining strawberries or leave whole if you prefer.
Place a heaping spoonful of whipped strawberry cream in 8 bowls, spoon sliced strawberries over the top and serve with a platter of meringue cookies. Alternately place whole strawberries and cookies on a platter, serve with a bowl of whipped cream and let people serve themselves.
A note about the meringues: I live a mile above sea level in a somewhat arid climate. These cookies are beautiful but shatter easily, which is why they're great served with whipped strawberry cream: catch the crumbs in the cream! Your cookies may be more moist and dense if you are cooking at sea level and therefore more sturdy for transport. Let me know what your experience is :)