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Meringues were introduced to England from France in the early eighteenth century and were quickly added to the array of sweets to be found there. Chocolate puffs (meringues, really), so-called because of their light and delicate appearance, should be made in dry weather, as high humidity will cause them to soften and become sticky. This modern recipe, written by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump, combines historic preparation instructions from Mary Kettilby and Elizabeth Raffald.


  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 tablespoons sifted Dutch-process cocoa


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.

3. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites hold stiff peaks.

4. Reduce the mixing speed to medium-low and gradually add the cocoa, beating in each addition until well combined.

5. Drop the meringue in rounded tablespoons about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 2 hours, or until puffed and firm. Turn off the heat, and let the puffs dry further in the oven for at least 2 more hours, or until they are cooled and crisp.

6. Store the puffs in a covered tin for up to 3 days.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen puffs