"I love the contrast of textures in a recipe. This dessert has the crispness of the meringue nests, the creamy smooth filling, and the crunch of the cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are pieces of raw cocoa beans and taste similar to roasted coffee beans." --Patrice Hurd, Bemidji, Minn.
To prepare meringues, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 8 (4-inch) circles on paper. Turn paper over; secure with masking tape.
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon coffee, and vanilla; beat well. Fold in 1/4 cup cacao nibs. Divide batter evenly among 8 circles on prepared baking sheet; spread to fill circles using the back of a spoon.
Bake at 300° for 35 minutes. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven 1 hour. Carefully remove meringues from paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. (Store in an airtight container for up to a week).
To prepare filling, combine 3 tablespoons cocoa, 3 tablespoons boiling water, and 1/2 teaspoon coffee granules in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cool. Combine powdered sugar and cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Add cocoa mixture; beat well. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon 1/4 cup filling into center of each meringue; drizzle 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup over each filled meringue. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon cacao nibs over each serving.
My book group really enjoyed this dessert. I divided the recipe into 12 portions and substituted chopped toasted almonds for the cocoa nibs. The meringue was a bit difficult to cut into bite size pieces with a fork, so some crumbs flew off the plate. I would use recipe for 8 portions next time, and there will be a next time!
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