Hazelnut Meringue Hearts
Makes 36 cookies
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, shelled
3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 large egg whites
3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup plus
2 tablespoons superfine sugar, or regular
sugar pulverized in a food processor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and
roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skins
crack. Remove from oven and rub the nuts
briskly between your hands or in a kitchen
towel until most of the skins are removed.
Place the nuts in a food processor with
1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar and the
lemon zest and finely grind.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites
until frothy, add the cream of tartar and
beat at medium speed while gradually adding
1 tablespoon superfine sugar. Beat until
soft peaks form when beaters are raised.
Add 1 tablespoon superfine sugar and increase
mixer speed to high. When stiff peaks form
when the beaters are raised, gradually beat
in the remaining superfine sugar. Continue
beating until whites are very stiff and
glossy. Sift the remaining powdered sugar
over the meringue and fold it in with a
Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
Place 1 cup of the meringue mixture in a
small bowl and stir in the ground nuts.
Place the remaining meringue in a pastry
bag with a No. 12 tube or in a reclosable
quart-size freezer bag with a small corner
snipped off. Squeeze the meringue mixture
onto the foil in 2-inch heart shapes, leaving
a small opening in the center of each heart.
Leave about 1 inch between each cookie.
When you've used all the plain meringue,
fill the bag with the hazelnut meringue
and squeeze that mixture into the center
of each heart, using enough filling to slightly
expand the cookie.
If the cookies need any reshaping, moisten
a finger in cold water and shake off the
excess before touching the meringue, or
it will stick to your finger.
Let the cookies dry at room temperature
until set, about 1 hour. Then preheat the
oven to 200 degrees F and bake the cookies
1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave cookies
in overnight, then peel from foil. Or remove
immediately from oven and use a metal spatula
to remove from foil, then cool on a wire
rack. Store cookies in an airtight container.