After an early-morning meeting yesterday, maneuvering my way home through the snow and then getting stuck in the driveway, I decided to stay inside to do some experimenting in the kitchen.
I always think Irish during March. Beer, cabbage, potatoes, corned beef and Bailey’s Irish Cream, of course. I’m not Irish, but I like to pretend I am at this time of year. I’m starting the month off with an Irish dessert followed by extra time on my NordicTrack.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used meringues as the foundation for a dessert. When I have, I’ve loved the sweet crunch of the baked sugar and egg white mixture. I’ve topped them with fresh fruit and with lemon curd and fresh raspberries. But this time I wanted to be a little more decadent with a touch of Irish.
Chocolate Truffle-Filled Meringue Puffs with Irish Coffee Cream are a collage of tastes and textures. Sweet, crunchy espresso meringues sandwich a thick layer of smooth, rich, luxuriant chocolate and whipped cream spiked with espresso and whiskey. The crispy meringue melts in your mouth, the chocolate slides slowly over the tongue and the whiskey whipped cream is an added dose of decadence. All I can say is that every bite will only push you towards another…and another. And that’s why I wound up back on the Track.
The meringues hold well for a few days in a tin, so make them ahead of time.
I’ve used this chocolate filling for a Chocolate Truffle Torte that I make. I’ll share that recipe another time. You probably won’t need all the filling for these meringues. Store it in a jar in the refrigerator and just dip a spoon into it when you need a chocolate fix.
And maybe you won’t need the entire amount of Irish Coffee Cream filling. Spoon mounds of it into big mugs and pour in some strong, hot coffee. That will warm you up on a snowy, winter night — or morning.
If you have Irish whiskey, great. I don’t. I used Rebel Yell, my favorite bourbon whiskey. It makes a mean whiskey sauce to top bread pudding.
I made a coffee-caramel drizzle for the dessert plate. I need to perfect that before I share the recipe with you. The dessert certainly doesn’t need it.
I still have several meringues in a tin. There’s truffle filling in my refrigerator. And as I write this entry I whisper a sigh of contentment with every sip of my Irish Coffee. There’s still plenty of the whipped cream filling in the bowl, though. Maybe my lunch will be an open-faced Chocolate Truffle-Filled Meringue Puff with Irish Coffee Cream. That will save a few calories, but I’m afraid I’ll be back on the Track.
Chocolate Truffle-Filled Meringue Puffs with Irish Coffee Cream
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup firmly-packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3 egg whites, at room temperature
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace 8 (3-inch) circles on each sheet. Turn paper over and return to baking sheets.
Combine sugars and espresso powder. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes.
Drop meringue mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto circles on parchment paper. Spread meringue with knife to fill in traced areas. Bake at 250- degrees for 1 hour or until meringues are dry. Gently remove from parchment and cool on wire racks.
Chocolate Truffle Filling:
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup whipping cream
Melt chocolate morsels and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in whipping cream. Transfer to a bowl and chill, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until filling is thick enough to spread and hold its shape.
Irish Coffee Cream Filling:
- 1½ cups whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons whiskey
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, whiskey and espresso powder. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Place one meringue on individual serving plates, top side up. Top each meringue with a thick layer of Chocolate Truffle Filling. Spread Irish Coffee Cream over the chocolate. Place another meringue, top side up, over the cream and gently press until filling spreads to edges. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate curls. Makes 8 desserts.
§ Eggs will separate more easily when cold. Egg whites will beat up with more volume when they are at room temperature.
§ These desserts can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead of serving time. Save the garnish of whipped cream and chocolate curls to add just before taking to the table to wow your guests.
§ To make chocolate curls, hold a chunk of chocolate in your hand to warm it up a little bit. Then slide your vegetable peeler slowly over the chocolate to form curls.