I’ve always thought of Turkish coffee as a special occasion sort of drink. It’s not just coffee: it’s extra robust coffee that’s often spiced, sweetened, and presented in pretty little mugs. And beneath the way it’s served is the distinctive way it’s prepared. The coffee beans are ground into a very fine powder, then brewed filter-free using ornate metal pots made specifically for the process. A delicate method that requires a careful eye, the water nearly bubbles over the edge before the concoction is ready.
Having only had it at friends’ houses and Turkish restaurants, I admit I may not have a grasp of authentic Turkish coffee. But the versions I’ve tasted have been distinct and delicious enough to remember with fondness and a craving for more. Not surprisingly, the brew has also often left me daydreaming of its rebirth as a dessert. Here’s what I came up with.
Turkish Coffee Meringues (makes about 100 little meringues or 50 little sandwiches)
- 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 eggs) at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder such as Medaglia D’oro
- 2 – 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Sprinkles and/or chocolate for melting (both optional)
Preheat oven to 200 F. Line 2 – 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Beat egg whites on high until foamy. With mixer on, add the cream of tartar (if using), then slowly add the sugar. Gradually add the spices and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Fit a pastry bag with the tip of your choice, fill with egg white mixture, and pipe small meringues onto the cookie sheets (about 1.25 – 1.5″ diameter). Before placing meringues in oven, if desired, decorate them with sprinkles or more spices. Bake for 60-75 minutes**. (If using more than one oven rack, stop at the halfway mark and switch them.) Turn off and open oven, and let meringues sit inside 15 minutes or just until pan is warm (not hot) and meringues feel dry (no longer wet). If desired, sandwich pairs of meringues with a bit of melted chocolate. Once chocolate has hardened, immediately store them in an airtight container at room temperature away from moisture.
Flavorful and fragrant, Turkish coffee meringues are full of sweet coffee taste and delectable spice. Not unlike the drink that inspired them, their little size delivers a robust burst of flavor and a welcome pick-me-up. They are crisp, light and satisfying, and for me, they echo the festive feeling of their namesake brew. Just as it should be with a homemade dessert, may you sense a celebration as you eat them!
Maybe next time… I think of meringues as more of a candy than a cookie, so I like to keep mine small, but they can be made larger and baked longer. Try piping them with a more ornate pastry bag tip than the plain one I used here, and freely adjust the coffee and spice amounts to your liking. If you’re going to sandwich your meringues, melted caramel or white chocolate filling would be wondrous in place of dark chocolate. Other spices aside from cardamom would also be delicious. If you live in a humid area like me, add a desiccant packet (look in your vitamin bottle) to your container of meringues.
**My area tends to be humid; an hour and 15 minutes has proven to be a good baking time for me, but if you live in a drier area, this might be too long (which will simply result in a toastier-colored, slightly drier meringue from the caramelized sugar). You might try pulling a meringue off a cookie sheet at the 1 hour mark and letting it cool; if it’s dry and not gooey, turn off the oven at this point.
P.S. As a bonus to their deliciousness, meringues are gluten-free, fat-free and dairy-free. (That is, as long as your fillings and decorations are, too.)