– courtesy Danish Pastry House, Oakville/

You can taste the care and quality that goes into the treats from one of our favourite local bakeries, the Danish Pastry House. For the holidays, they've shared this light as air meringue recipe for you to make at home. Adding the chocolate creates a dramatic “night and day” visual – turning a simple meringue into an elegant desert centrepiece. Meringues store very well at room temperature in a container and can be prepared a week or two in advance. Makes 12 to 15 large meringues.

500 mL (500 grams) egg whites (carton style, if you prefer)
5 cups (1000 grams) fine white sugar
1 ¾cup (150 grams) blanched sliced almonds, lightly toasted
½ cup (50 grams) cocoa
350 grams Belgian Callebaut (good quality dark) chocolate for meltings

PREHEAT oven to 200°F.

LINE baking trays with parchment paper or silicone liners.

BEFORE you begin the meringue, lightly toast sliced almonds in a dry frying pan. Ensure you watch them carefully as they will change colour quickly. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

egg whites and a third of the sugar together at high speed in a stand mixer or with hand blender. As the mixture begins to take some form, slowly add the remaining sugar until you develop a very stiff, white foam texture. This may be done by hand but you must consistently whisk the mixture as fast as you can. You will know the mixture is ready when you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue does not fall out.

creative and sprinkle in the fresh cocoa to darken some or all of the mixture and carefully fold in almonds to enhance colour and taste. Alternatively, you could sprinkle the almonds on top.

out individual meringues on prepared baking trays. You may create any shapes you like, either large circles, longer ovals or even curved shapes. In the bakery,  they refer to them as having the size of “elephant feet”.  Feel free to design a variety of sizes and peaked shapes to create interest on a cake stand.

BAKE until dry to touch but still white, about approximately 1 to 1½ hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to sit in the warm oven overnight or until the oven is completely cold. Bake for only an hour if you prefer your meringues slightly chewy inside.

remove meringues from the parchment paper.

MELT chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, then dip half of each meringue into the melted chocolate to coat. Let rest on clean parchment paper until the chocolate is dry and then carefully peel off to serve. Enjoy!