I have a strong difference of opinion with myself. Brightly colored vibrant foods are my first choices. The more colors in the market basket or on a plate the better. The oranges and greens, reds and purples, and occasional black foods make me salivate just to look at.
Yet when it comes to desserts, I’m drawn to the modest beiges, creamy whites, and browns of all shades. My affinity is for rustic, crumbly sweets that out-perform their appearances. There is a place for sprinkles and colorful frosting and fancy flourishes, but for day-to-day desserts the homier the better.
Hazelnut Meringue Cookies
Oregonians are rightfully proud of our home-grown hazelnuts, with 99% of U. S. hazelnuts grown right here in the Willamette Valley. This fast and simple four-ingredient recipe (five if you use the optional almond extract) features them like the heroes they are.
Nutty meringue cookies have been around for decades. The difference here is that I’ve developed this recipe to feature as much hazelnut flavor and texture as the egg white meringue will hold. Don’t let this quiet beige cookie fool you– they pack in a lot of hazelnut along with their very pleasant crispy and chewy texture.
Hazelnut Meringue Cookies are terrific served with summer fruit platters, any kind of fruit, chocolate, or caramel ice creams or sorbets, (like my Strawberry Sorbet and DF Ice Cream duo!) They are also delicious as a coffee or tea break treat.
The recipe contains no gluten, no grain, and no additional fat besides that which is natural to the nuts.
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Chewy Hazelnut Meringue Cookies
- 14 oz. finely chopped Oregon hazelnuts or hazelnut flour about 2 ¾ cups
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. almond extract (optional) this magnifies the nutty flavor but use only a little!
- ½ tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats.
- Finely chop hazelnuts in a food processor or by hand, if using whole. Set aside.
- In an upright mixer or using a hand mixer, begin whipping egg whites on medium speed. As they begin to get bubbly and foamy, add in the extracts and salt. Increase mixer speed to high and continue beating until eggs white turn solid white. Begin adding sugar in, one Tablespoon at a time in fairly quick succession, until all the sugar is added.
- Continue whipping egg whites until they are very stiff and hold stiff peaks, and the sugar is completely dissolved into them. (Rub a little of the mixture between your fingers to feel if the sugar is dissolved.
- Using a spatula, gently but thoroughly fold the hazelnuts into the egg whites in three batches. The mixture will become a little stiff at the end– that's OK.
- Using a one Tablespoon scoop or spoon, drop the batter into the baking sheets. With lightly damp fingers, gently pat the tops of the cookies down. (They will not spread as they bake.) Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges and on the bottom. Cool on baking sheets.
- These will keep in a sealed container for several days, and freeze well.