My most recent cookbook, “Molto Batali,” is divided into 12 chapters that correspond to the calendar months of the year. The third chapter starts: “Arriva marzo pazzerello; esce il sole e prendi l'ombrello!” or “Here comes crazy March; the sun comes out and you grab your umbrella!”
The weather this March has been less predictable than usual. New York has experienced fall, winter and spring in the span of 10 days. It's even tested the versatility of my shorts and Crocs.
This recipe works during every season. It's the perfect transitional dessert, to bridge winter and spring.
Meringues are typically associated with French or Swiss cuisine. But the dish does have a pedigree in Italian cooking. In fact, some speculate that, like most good things, the meringue was invented by an Italian cook.
In its simplest form, meringue is a combination of sugar and whipped egg whites. In this recipe, I add Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur from northern Italy. The hazelnut makes it a little exotic but delicate. It's the subtlety of this preparation that makes it distinctly Italian.
In general, I'm not a sweets person, but if there's a recipe I love for its sugary decadence, it's this. But they're not to be consumed in one sitting. Moderation makes these confections all the sweeter.
The baked meringues can be stored in an airtight container filled with uncooked rice for a couple of days. Recreate this dessert for a couple of nights. It makes the perfect midnight snack.
Mario Batali is the owner of Babbo, Lupa, Otto and other renowned restaurants. His latest book is “Molto Batali,” published by Ecco.
Hazelnut meringues with chocolate chip mascarpone
Makes 40 meringues sandwiches.
8 ounces hazelnuts, skins on
6 eggs whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus ½ cup confectioners' sugar