A trip to the Alps

December 12, 2011

Nope. I didn’t jet off to Switzerland for the weekend (I wish!). Instead, I just jetted a couple of blocks to my BFF’s house for a lovelyIMG_3940 Christmas get-together that she and her sister-in-law hosted…food, craft-making, movie-watching and lots of girlie talking and giggling = a lovely way to spend a Friday night. I (naturally) offered to bake something. I’m always torn about what to bring – all throughout the year, but especially during the “festive season.” On the one hand, I want to bring something special, delicious, over-the-top and decadent that I know will be a crowd pleaser. On the other hand, I want to bring something that is at least somewhat healthy, to balance out all the other decadent options (like the RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING hot chocolate Megan made. Ingredients = sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, heavy cream and milk. Oh, that stuff was positively divine….I couldn’t stop myselfEmbarrassed smile).

The answer? Swiss Alps Cookies!IMG_3937 These little gems are basically meringue cookies with chunks of Toblerone fruit and nut bar, and a nice dusting of powdered sugar(they’re Swiss Alps cookies ‘cause they are made with Swiss chocolate and a dusting of “snow” – get it? ). And I think these are the perfect balance between naughty and nice – meringue is naturally fat-free (until you add chocolate that is), but the Toblerone gives these cookies a certain indulgence factor. And they’re only 1 point plus each – not too shabby?

IMG_3927The recipe comes from Kraft Canada’s What’s Cooking  magazine (Festive 2010), meaning that it is also available online here, so I’m not going to post the recipe, I’ll just give you my photos and a breakdown. Now, if you’ll indulge me, I just have to rant a bit about What’s Cooking. It’s a publication by Kraft with various recipes, mostly of the fast and easy variety, and featuring (surprise, surprise) lots of Kraft products. It comes free in the mail, so I’ve been receiving it since high school. But, sadly, the freedom part is about to end, since Kraft is going to start making people pay!!! I received a notice earlier this year as a “valued subscriber.” The price they’re asking isn’t too steep, but considering the recipes are all online, I’m not going to fork over more cash for the paper version! I know that costs have gone up and all that, but, really Kraft??? Ok. I’m done. On to the cookies….

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Let’s get started. Just 6 ingredients necessary for these delectable morsels. Heads-up: most meringue cookies are gluten-free, but these are not. There’s just a bit of flour in there (I think it’s added for the purpose of helping the chocolate pieces distribute more evenly throughout the cookies). IMG_3926

Stand mixers: not absolutely vital for making meringue, but they do make your life a HECK of a lot easier, as you don’t have to have mega-pipes like you would if you used a whisk, and you don’t have to stand there and beat all day like you would with a a hand mixer. Just put everything in and go on about your business. I got this one for free….a family friend worked at a Maytag factory that was closing, and they had all these beautiful Jenn Air mixers that they were literally going to take to a landfill because they would no longer be supporting the warranty…so he started giving them away to anyone he could think of…pretty sweet, eh?

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This is what the egg whites and cream of tartar look like when they are at the soft peak stage. Ever wonder exactly what that means or how you go about getting these so-called peaks? Just pull the beater out of the bowl, and look at the “peak” that’s left behind. If it gently falls over, it’s soft. If it holds its shape, it’s stiff. IMG_3930

 

 

 

See? After gradually adding the sugar, we’ve got some stiff peaks on our hands.

 

 

 

IMG_3929IMG_3931The chopped chocolate,before and after being mixed with the flour. Please, for the love of God, when you’re chopping it, test as much as you see fit just to make sure it’s ok…if nothing else, it will make me feel better about myself and all the chocolate I “tested” when making these cookies. I used Toblerone Fruit and Nut since that’s what the recipe calls for, but if the fruit and nut thing doesn’t float your boat, you could use plain Toblerone, or really whatever kind of chocolate excites you.

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You want to use a spatula to gently fold in the chocolate, not the whisk attachment/electric beaters. The meringue is very delicate, and all the air you’ve beaten into it is what’s making it so nice and fluffy. If you beat the mix up too roughly, you’ll deflate the meringue and your cookies won’t be so light and airy.

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All  mixed up and ready for cookie action!

 

 

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I used my cookie scoop to shape the meringues. I wouldn’t recommend piping these ones, as the large chunks of chocolate would probably get stuck in the piping bag. They looked kinda small, but spread out a bit during baking.IMG_3935

 

 

Here’s what they look like right out of the oven, before the “snow” comes.

 

 

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It’s snowing in the Alps! If you can get a little gadget like this one to sift the icing sugar, it makes life so much easier. I got mine at a hospital charity sale a few years ago with my Grandma, and I use it all the time to sift cocoa powder or icing sugar over desserts. It comes out much more evenly, and it is a simple way to make a dessert look just a little more elegant.

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Capped with snow and ready to go!

 

 

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Check out these ADORABLE Tupperware canisters! I got them a couple of weeks ago from my friend Heather who is a Tupperware consultant. They made the perfect vehicle for transporting the meringues to a holiday party, don’t you agree? Heads-up on meringue storage: make sure you keep them in an air-tight container away from any moisture and humidity, and absolutely DO NOT put them in the fridge or with other cookies. They will pick up the moisture and go all sweaty and soggy on you, and no one likes that!

While I didn’t scale the Alps this weekend, I did get on the scale (did you like that seamless and hilarious transition there?). As is the trend, it was not a happy occasion…I gained 1.6 pounds (sigh). I’m not going to dwell on it today…more musings to come later in the week, just thought I’d keep you posted on Monday, as is my trend.

We are under 2 weeks till Christmas? How is your shopping/wrapping/baking going? Not to brag, and I don’t want to be one of those annoying people you hate because they get everything done super-early, but this weekend, I got all this done:

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I’m excited, because I have NEVER done wrapping this early. I’m just anticipating a crazy couple of weeks ahead, and school goes right until the 23rd, so I figured I’d get it done while I could. But don’t feel bad if you’re not done, just take a deep breath, and tell yourself that it always gets done somehow, no matter what!

5 Comments

  • Jennie says:

    I get the Kraft magazine too, but haven’t heard anything about them starting to charge for it! Hmmm…. Makes me wonder if I just missed it (quite possible) or if something sneaky is going on. ??? I’m only minimally impressed with it – there’s a lot of chicken and cheese in there, which my family can’t eat. But sometimes there’s a keeper recipe or two. And the festive one usually has excellent treats which are fun… as you’ve just demonstrated! Yum.

  • Maren says:

    OMG those cookies look amazing! I like any cookie with chocolate chips in them. Soo gooey and melty.

  • OoOoO I love merengue cookies!!!

    I am all done Christmas wrapping as you already know…AND my Christmas cards are mailed out!! BOO YA!

    I was just saying to Jeff yesterday that I forget what Toblerone’s taste like! There’s a random thought for the day ;)

  • Shana says:

    I’m also torn when I have to decide what to bake for events. The healthy part of me wants to take something good for you and the other part of me knows that the people demand treats! A co-worker told me yesterday that I’m not allowed to bring anything healthy to the Christmas party!!!

  • WAT75 says:

    The “Swiss Alps Number” are great…always wanted to “ski the Alps”…

    As to Shopping…I have one “in the bag”…actually delivered to my door today…

    Accumulated 3 stocking stuffers tonight at a Chamber of Commerce function….Looking good for the “recipients”!!

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