Meringue cookies are just right to bring cheer

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I cried the morning I broke my champagne glasses. They were drying on the counter next to the window in my kitchen. I pulled the cord to raise the blinds, and unfortunately the blinds jostled out of their housing and crashed down into the kitchen sink, shattering the glasses.

These were the champagne flutes that we toasted with at our wedding reception 22 years ago. They were engraved with my husband’s name and my name and below that the date of our wedding, March 26, 1994. We had enjoyed a glass of champagne on our wedding anniversary last week and the glasses had been freshly washed when they met their demise.

In looking back at the life of my champagne flutes, I am actually surprised at their longevity. Those glasses survived three household moves, a couple of minor earthquakes, and life with three kids. We had enjoyed many glasses of bubbly in those flutes.

For those who aren’t familiar with stemware, there are two types that champagne is typically served in. The flute is a tall, slender glass with a long stem that holds between 6 and 10 ounces of your favorite sparkling wine. The narrowness of the glass is designed to help retain the bubbles in your bubbly. The carbonation doesn’t fizzle out as quickly with the smaller surface area.

Something nice about the flute is the clear picture of champagne’s visual dance. I’ve always loved watching the bubbles rise to the top. And the long stem on a flute allows you to hold the glass by the stem so your hand doesn’t affect the temperature of your drink. No one wants to drink warm champagne.

If you grew up in the ‘70s like I did, you probably remember your parents drinking champagne from a coupe. The champagne coupe is short stemmed with a saucer-shaped shallow bowl. Watch old movies like “Casablanca” or “The Thin Man” and you will spot Victor Laszlo and Nick Charles drinking champagne cocktails from coupes.

It was also the glass that was used to build “champagne towers” at weddings and special events. Coupes were stacked into a pyramid shape. Then, champagne was continuously poured into the top glass and overflowed into the glasses beneath it until every glass was filled.

Despite their drama, coupes have fallen out of favor since the 1980s. The broad surface area causes champagne to go flat quicker and the squatty bowl doesn’t allow you to see the dramatic rise of bubbles. Stems are usually shorter on a coupe, which makes you grasp the bowl, causing champagne to rise in temperature more quickly. And no one wants to drink warm champagne.

As I dried my tears, my 15-year-old comforted me with, “It’s only the glasses that are broken, not your marriage.” And I thought about the truth in that. How many of our friends and acquaintances still had their champagne flutes intact but their marriages had long been shattered? Too many, unfortunately.

I decided I needed a little cheering up, so I pulled out a recipe that I’ve been wanting to make since I saw it in Parade magazine back in December. These meringue cookies are gluten free and great with a glass of champagne.


A14-PIC-Cook

Chewy Dark Chocolate Meringue Cookies

  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 12 oz 70–72 percent cacao dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus walnut halves for garnish
  • ½ cup chopped dried cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, lemon juice, vanilla and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in chocolate, walnuts and cherries.

Scrape half of batter into a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut a ¾-inch hole in one corner of bag. Pipe 2-inch cookies onto prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining batter and a clean zip-top bag. Alternatively, use 2 soup spoons to spoon batter onto parchment paper if you don’t want to mess with piping cookies from a zip-top bag. Top each cookie with a walnut half.

Bake 15 minutes or until outside is set and dry. Cool completely on sheet pans. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes 36 cookies.


 

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Betty Williams