I was never a fan of meringue until my mid-thirties. My Grandma would make beautiful pies with a towering heap of baked meringue, but most of my childhood I stayed as far away from it as possible, disappointed it wasn’t whipped cream.
When I started making meringue myself, however, I fell in love with it in all forms. Here is a fancy-yet-not-too-fancy version of it: a thick layer baked on top of chocolate chip cookie dough. Each bite is pure bliss.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Base
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cookie Base
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan and line with parchment paper along the bottom and up the long sides of the pan, leaving a little bit of overhang. Grease the parchment paper as well.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the melted butter and sugars on medium until combined. On low, mix in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy, and the slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Gently press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, evening out the surface. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the dough, and then press them lightly into the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until the dough is cooked but still very soft. Let cool on a wire rack while making the meringue.
- Turn up the oven temperature to 400F.
For the Meringue
- Put about 1-inch of water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, brown sugar, and salt together.
- Put the bowl over the saucepan, being careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted (this will take several minutes) and reaches a temperature of 160F. Brush the sides down with the spatula occasionally to make sure all the sugar has melted and no grains are clinging to the sides. Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess.
- Once the mixture is completely smooth, move the bowl to the stand mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium-high speed. Beat it until light, fluffy, glossy, and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Use immediately.
- Using a rubber spatula, mound the meringue onto the center of the cookie base and spread it evenly to the edges. Place a sheet of parchment paper the same size as the pan over the top of the meringue, lightly pressing it into the top. Turn down the oven temperature to 350F and bake the bars for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper from the top, and bake about 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Use the parchment paper to help lift the bars out of the pan (you may have to run a thin knife around the edge of the pan as well) and cut into squares.
- If you have a kitchen torch, you can add some extra color to the top of the bars right after you remove them from the oven (just be careful not to burn the parchment paper!). These squares are best eaten the day they are made.
Recipe adapted from Meringue Girls by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman.