Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nighty Nights: a cookie for all seasons

photo by Baker Beth
This is one of my favorite cookies of all time. I got the recipe back in the 70's during the first oil crisis when ovens were multi-tasking machines. After you baked whatever you were having for dinner, you would turn the oven off and let these treats "bake" overnight.

The cookies are a basic meringue but lend themselves to many variations. These are not as dry and hard as commercial varieties. The outside has a pleasant crunch but the inside is more of a divinity texture due to the moisture in the fillings. They can be tinted or flavored as you like. I've listed my most popular fillings but you can try anything that is fairly dry. I prefer mini chips and usually chop regular sized chips if the flavor doesn't come in mini size.

If you have had trouble with undissolved sugar in meringues due to humidity or old sugar I have an easy tip. Measure the sugar required for the recipe into a blender. (If you have a small blender jar it is even better.) Whirl the sugar for a minute or so until it is the consistency of powdered sugar. Then use in the recipe. DO NOT substitute regular powdered sugar as the corn starch in it will mess up the finished product.

Nighty Nights

Preheat oven to 350 for an over night bake or to 200 for a 3 hour bake. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil - do not grease.

2 room temperature egg whites
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring
(optional) food coloring

Whip egg whites until at least doubled. Continue whipping and gradually add the sugar until stiff. Finish with vanilla and food coloring if used. Remove from mixer and gently blend in one of the additional ingredients groups:

1. 1 1/2 cups mini chips and 1 cup finely chopped nuts

2. 1 cup nuts, 1 cup sweetened coconut, 1 cup white chocolate chips

3. 1 cup mini chips, 1 cup dried cherries, tint batter pink

4. 1 cup chopped dried fruit, 1 cup chopped nuts

5. 1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit, no nuts

Drop batter by small teaspoon or small cookie scoop onto foil. These won't spread so you can place them very close together.

Place in 350 oven, turn off heat and leave for 8 hours without opening the oven door.

OR

Place in 200 oven and leave for about 3 hours. Cool on counter before removing from the foil.

The cookies will peel off of the tinfoil. Store tightly covered.

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