Floating on a Cloud to Paris

During the Christmas season Mom would often take me on a trip to Paris. Really, you might ask? Well, let me explain.

As a young girl, I just knew that mom’s Chocolate Parisienne Cookies had to have come from an exquisite Parisian bakery. With one bite, I would close my eyes and pretend that I was lightly floating on a cloud across the Atlantic Ocean to Paris as the sweet, mildly moist, meringue-based confection melted in my mouth. Then, in my momentary state of pretend, I became a young French mademoiselle garbed in the smartest European fashion, lightheartedly dancing underneath the Eiffel Tower. But as reality hit, I floated back to earth to discover that I was actually sitting at the kitchen table in our cozy farm home enjoying the deliciousness that Mom had created. Her home-baked meringue cookies surely rivaled those created by any professional Paris patissier!

Isn’t it interesting that special recipes are only used in holiday baking? Does that happen in your family, too, Dear Readers?

The recipe for Mom’s melt-in-your-mouth chocolate meringues would come out of hiding the last month of the year. Then, it was as if Christmas arrived uncharacteristically during the first part of December when Mom would start baking for the holidays. I identified with Clement Clarke Moore when he wrote, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and penned, “When what to my wondering eyes should appear?” but these cute little cookies so sweet and so dear! (The last lyrics are this author’s.)

Delicate chocolate-flecked cookies dressed with chocolate “hats” and chopped nuts would repose on wire cooling racks as Mom completed the finishing touches. She would lovingly let us enjoy a sample, but the majority of these tiny treats were for the homemakers candy/cookie exchange or holiday guests.

Our home had a great cold storage room that was perfect for housing holiday treats. It was called our front hall closet. We rarely used the front door to our home, so with another door separating the front entry from the living room and a bath towel rolled up and placed at the base of that door as a draft dodger, this unheated entry area was easily winterized and conveniently appropro for housing batches of holiday cookies and candies including these Parisiennes. Yep,“Out of sight. Out of mind.” was the suitable proverbial expression that applied, helping to prevent little hands from opening metal cookie tins and sneakily emptying them. Can you identify with the sneaky part, Dear Readers?

So, now as we dress our holiday giving with homemade treats, I share with you the recipe for Chocolate Parisienne Cookies. Unfortunately, I don’t have Mom’s original recipe, but this recipe from ifood.tv is similar to what I remember Mom’s recipe having been.

Oh, my reading friends, I wish I could literally take you to the Champs-Elysees in the lovely Paris. Wouldn’t it just be silly fun to dance underneath the Eiffel Tower? However, you can let your imagination float on a cloud to that awe-inspiring French city as you imbibe in the luxury of a meringue-based confection that is an icon in the patisseries of Paris.

CHOCOLATE PARISIENNE COOKIES

Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1 t. white vinegar
½ t. salt
1 c. granulated sugar
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate squares, grated
1 c. almonds, finely chopped
6 oz. semisweet chocolate pieces
1 T. vegetable shortening
¼ c. pistachio nuts, finely chopped

Directions: In large bowl, beat egg whites with vinegar and salt until foamy. Beat in granulated sugar, 1 T. at a time until firm peaks form. Gently fold in grated chocolate and almonds. Drop half-teaspoonfuls, 1 inch apart, on greased cookie sheets. Bake in a very slow oven (275 degrees) for 20 min. or just until set. Remove carefully from sheets; cool. Melt the semisweet chocolate pieces with shortening in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Swirl on tops of cookies; sprinkle with nuts.

Miss NiNi