When I first saw Fanny‘s picture of these gorgeous snail-like green tea and vanilla sables, I just knew I had to make something similar. I mean, it would be so perfect for my new blog…

So hurriedly, I read the recipe, nodded happily and set out to conquer a new recipe. But then, silly child that I am…I remembered that I wasn’t a huge fan of matcha. And decided to go chocolate instead. Substituted cocoa powder for the matcha powder. All good, right? Vanilla and chocolate? What could go wrong? 

And see, they are really pretty, aren’t they?

 

Then I tasted my attempt. *Insert failure noise here*.

Sadly, my attempt wasn’t so great… I knew something was going wrong when the dough stubbornly refused to roll out properly and kept breaking up. I probably should have followed my gut instinct, which was to go running for the butter to add a little more moisture to the dough..which was, in my imagination, gasping (inaudibly) ‘water….waaaterr….!’ But, trusting blindly in the force…I didn’t.

My mistake number two was to not roll it up all nicely and neatly, but that was probably a by-product of mistake number one. But they turned out okay, after being chilled and cut up. See? Nothing to worry about.

These two were lonely while all the others went into the oven…

Finally, lesson number 3. Use a recipe adapted for the flavours. A very very very basic mistake that I really should have known better, but was probably too hazed up and tired from being sick to realise. I suspect my idea of simply substituting cocoa and keeping the rest of the recipe the same, wasn’t such a good idea after all. Perhaps going with a simple checkerboard cookie recipe, and just changing the final design, would result in an end-product more to my taste. The sable recipe I used wasn’t sweet enough to sweeten the cocoa, I think…at least, not to my sweet-tooth standards. There’s nothing wrong with the recipe itself, I would just recommend sticking to the original flavours!

Sigh. But they look so pretty…

 

Moving on.

From the recipe, I had 3 egg whites in the fridge to be used. Unlike in other households, my family doesn’t seem to like it when bits and pieces that could be used in the future are left around the fridge or cupboards. Which is a shame, because freezing eggwhites, or making vanilla sugar, or keeping packets of coloured sugar for another day would be so convenient. So I decided to hop back onto the horse and try my hand at something else.

Unlike T, I’m a huge fan of marshmallow (he gives me the marshmallow out of his hot chocolate if there is one ^^) and so, seeing these over at Chocolate and Zucchini, I decided to try my hand at making some French Meringues.

 

I didn’t have (many) problems with these at all. They turned out beautifully and were really quite simple to make. My only concern are these odd, cave-like formations that appeared once they went in the oven. I was hoping for a somewhat denser (in an airy way) marshmallowy centre, but quite a few of them were hollow on the inside. Any advice anyone could give me?

So in the end, I have some very pretty cookies, which I’m not too happy with, and some very yummy meringues, which look somewhat rustic. Oh well. I ended up settling down in the nice warm kitchen to lick my wounds…and the bowl of chocolate meringue. 

I based my attempt on the recipe on C&Z with a few extra tips and quirks here and there

Recipe:
French Meringues

3 egg whites
175g sugar*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder**

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Wipe down beaters and the absolutely spotless bowl you are about to use (they say stainless steel, ceramic and glass bowls are better than plastic, because they clean up more thoroughly) with a little white vinegar. This will make sure there is no fat on them, which will keep the whites from beating up properly.

Using an electric whisk (or your stand mixer), beat the whites until they form soft peaks. Then, tablespoon at a time, add the sugar and mix until fully incorporated. When all the sugar has been added, the mixture should be smooth, beautifully glossy and firm. Add vanilla extract at this point, as well as the cocoa and whisk through.

Use a tablespoon to drop dollops of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and making interesting points and shapes. Leave space inbetween the meringues, about the same size as the dollops, so they can grow. You can also pipe the meringue for more uniform shapes. But I think these are cute. Like little alien plants or rocks.

Place the baking tray into the oven, and leave in there for 45 mins to 1 hour, depending on whether you want a slightly marshmallowy centre (I did) or a completely crunchy meringue. Leave them in the oven (heat turned off) for a few hours, with the door slightly open, if you prefer them hard, or take them out and leave to cool if you like them softer.

*I used a half caster sugar, half raw sugar combination. I personally think raw sugar makes things more caramelly and toffee like, but I suppose any type of sugar works here.

** I added half the cocoa and whisked to incorporate it fully, and then swirled the rest through. My most recent encounter with meringues had chocolate like streaks swirled through it, and was absolutely delectable, and I was hoping to recreate that. It didn’t quite work how I wanted it, but maybe  incorporating cocoa powder into one half of the mixture and piping the two parts together would work? ….and I have no idea how the guy made caramel swirls through the other meringues…*drools*.

Comments from the victims:

Mum liked the spiral cookies, saying that any sweeter would make it too sweet for her. She liked the meringues too, but would have liked a bit less sugar.

I think the meringues are love.

Dad thinks the meringues look like cupcakes with something gone seriously wrong.