I was in the mood for something crunchy yet sweet and wanted to try something new.  I have been so enamored by the Tartine Bread cookbook that I finally splurged on their first cookbook, Tartine.  On the afternoon of my crunchy craving, I was reading my new cookbook and spotted a recipe for almond rochers, or meringues, and I was intrigued by their beauty and simplicity.  Rocher is the French word for boulder which adequately describes the appearance of these small treats (or how they are supposed to look, mine turned out like little kisses).  With just five ingredients, I thought this would be a great recipe to tackle on a lazy afternoon.

While my little boulders did not turn out nearly as beautiful as the picture that caught my attention, I thought they were fun to make and I enjoyed working with a new recipe.  Once baked, the meringues were delightfully crunchy and chewy, melted in your mouth, and had a comforting toasty flavor.

I have always found something very fantastic about beating eggs whites!  What a beautiful transformation.

So, if you are in the mood for something crunchy, or just a new recipe, try these out.

Almond Rochers

From the Tartine cookbook by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson

Makes about 30 small cookies

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

2 large eggs whites, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the almonds on an unlined baking sheet.  Place in the oven and toast until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Break up the almonds with your hands into 1/4-inch pieces (or use a rolling pin).  If piping the rochers, keep in mind that any large bits will clog the pastry tip.

Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.  Combine the egg whites, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, not touching, the water.  Whisk together and then place over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the whites are hot to the touch, about 5 minutes.  Remove the bowl from over the water and place on the stand mixer.  Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed until the mixture is very thick and holds glossy, stiff peaks when you lift the beater.  Fold in the almonds and vanilla with a rubber spatula.

Immediately scoop the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet, forming “kisses” about 1-inch in diameter and spacing them about 1 1/2 -inches apart.  Or, you can drop the meringue by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and keep the oven door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape.  bake the cookies until they puff slightly, crack along the sides, and feel dry on the outside, but soft to the touch, 15-20 minutes.  They will harden as they cool.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.  They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Note (to self) – Next time I make these, I will pat down the point of the rocher after piping, maybe the end result will be more boulder-like?

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