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Decadence without guilt

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Quick & Easy Chocolate Delight

(Family Features) - The hustle and bustle of the holidays are here, meaning its "party time," as company events, family get-togethers and dinners with friends and neighbors fill the season. But in the midst of shopping, wrapping, decorating and more, who has time to prepare that perfect holiday dessert?

In this time-crunched season, many people can't spend hours in the kitchen mixing, preparing and baking. But it wasn't always this way. In the 1600s, meringue cookies, which require hours of baking time, were born. The cookies would later become popular for weddings, celebrations and holidays in France, Italy, Switzerland and Portugal, and became known as the "party cookie" because they were usually prepared for special occasions.

Although many consider meringues difficult to bake because they require a dry environment and about four hours of baking time, legend has it that Queen Marie Antoinette of France loved meringues so much she made them herself at Trianon, a castle near Paris.

Made primarily of egg whites and sugar, the cookies have a unique, sweet taste and almost air-like texture. Today many Americans are discovering the gourmet treat, as prepackaged meringue cookies make their way into grocery and specialty stores across the nation.

Falling in Love With Meringue 

"Americans are falling in love with these delicious treats, which are perfect for entertaining and are also naturally low-fat or fat-free," said Jacques Pautrat, master pastry chef who first helped introduce traditional French meringue cookies to the United States in 1987 with his chain of Southern California bakeries. "For centuries they have been a hit in France, where I grew up eating the cookies at home, in bakeries and in cafes."

In 1997, Pautrat began offering French meringue cookies under the Miss Meringue line to retailers as Classiques, which are large meringues that maintain the "homemade" look and appeal of traditional meringues. In 2002, Miss Meringue introduced Minis, bite-sized versions of the treats, and in 2004 the company introduced Sugar-Free Zero Net Carb

Meringue Cookies. The cookies are available in more than 11 fat-free or low-fat flavors including vanilla, chocolate, cappuccino, chocolate chip, coconut, mint chocolate chip, and more.

Pautrat said it's the wide variety of flavors and colors that make meringue cookies a festive addition to holiday celebrations.

"Meringues can be eaten alone, as part of another dish or can be displayed in a variety of creative ways to add holiday ambiance and appeal," said Pautrat.

Many people enjoy meringues crushed and served with ice cream, on top of fresh fruit or with hot chocolate, but it is the great taste of the cookies when combined with melted chocolate that sparked Miss Meringue to begin offering Chocolettes, traditional meringue cookies drizzled in gourmet chocolate, in 2003.

"Chocolettes offer the great taste of meringues, combined with rich chocolate, giving people the feeling of indulgence when they eat them, yet they are still much lower in calories and fat when compared to other holiday desserts," said Pautrat.

Amazing Meringue 

Registered Dietician Sharon McNerney said Miss Meringue cookies and Chocolettes are more healthful than other cookies and are a good choice for people watching their waistline during the holidays.

"The holidays are a notoriously difficult time for people trying to lose weight," said McNerney. "Many people concerned about their weight try to avoid eating rich, holiday foods and desserts and end up feeling deprived. For those people, meringue cookies are perfect because they offer gourmet taste, without a lot of fat or calories.

"And for those people on a low-carb diet, meringues are now available in a sugar-free variety," said McNerney. Miss Meringue cookies have 8 to 30 calories per cookie, depending on size and flavor and Chocolettes have 14 to 19 calories per cookie. Miss Meringue cookies are fat-free or low-fat, depending on flavor, and Chocolettes have less than 1 gram of fat per cookie, much lower than most other holiday cookies and desserts.

For more information about Miss Meringue cookies and Chocolettes, call (800) 561-6516 or visit www.missmeringue.com.

Meringue Madness

Add holiday decadence and ambiance by using meringues to:

  • Decorate cakes and pies
  • Adorn gingerbread houses
  • Dip in melted chocolate
  • Place in holiday gift baskets
  • Wrap in cellophane or put in small, decorative boxes to give away to guests
  • Create edible centerpieces
  • Display in candy dishes instead of chocolates

Quick & Easy Chocolate Delight

  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup or sugar-free chocolate syrup
  • 7 Miss Meringue Sugar-Free or Mini chocolate meringue cookies
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat frozen yogurt or low-carb ice cream (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 2 strawberries hulled and sliced, or 1/3 of a sliced banana
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    1. Spoon chocolate syrup on dessert plate. Using back of spoon, spread the sauce into circle. Place meringue cookies on chocolate syrup in circle.
    2. Top with frozen yogurt and sprinkle with almonds and sliced berries or banana.
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Serves 1

SOURCE: Miss Meringue

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