Everytime I make a dessert involving many egg yolks, I end up wondering what to do with all the egg whites left. If I think about all the benefits, I certainly don’t want to waste the part of the egg that is fat-free and a rich source of high-quality protein, important minerals and vitamins. So, after making this mouthwatering flan, I was left with eleven egg whites in the fridge. I spent three at lunch scrambling it with sautéed vegetables, which was a good choice as the egg whites acquired the taste of the veggies. For the rest of the egg whites, I had something else in mind.
Suspiros! That’s what this typical pastry is called in Portugal. Translated it means sigh. The famous “Suspiros de Braga”, named after the oldest Portuguese city, are part of the characteristic convent sweets of the Minho region. The introduction of sugar into the gastronomic tradition occurred in the convents during the XV century and resulted in the creation of splendid desserts that extended to all regions of Portugal. Another fascinating fact is that many of these sweets have different recipes according to the convent of origin and region. Many many times I enjoyed the Suspiros made by the “Docaria de Sao Vicente”, a centenary confectionery heiress of that traditional recipe in Braga. A place worth a visit if you happen to be in the region.
Here I recreate the Suspiros recipe, in which I included lemon for extra flavor and scented freshness and chocolate for the most pleasant decadence. I enjoyed some with Greek yogurt and strawberries, but it’s also tasty with whipped cream. They are crispy, delicate, airy and exquisitely tempting.
Lemon Meringue Cookies with Chocolate (Suspiros de Limao com Chocolate)
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 45 – 50 minutes
Makes about 36 cookies
8 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees and place the rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a big bowl of an electric mixer (I can’t stop loving my KitchenAid), whisk the egg whites until forms soft peaks. Slowly, add the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and keep beating until it holds very stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a large tip, or to a ziploc bag and make a cut in one side of the bag, and work on making the meringue round shapes into the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes (do not open the oven door during the baking time to prevent cracking). Turn of the oven and let it cool inside for more 10 minutes. After that time, remove the meringue cookies from the oven and let it cool completely. They should be crisp on the outside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium power for 30 seconds intervals until well melted. Dip the top or the base of each meringue in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to set at room temperature. Store the cookies in an airtight container.