We often have recipes that use just an egg yolk or two, and, usually, we just use the egg white to make up a quick batch of pasta dough. And, since you can use an extra yolk for pasta dough, too, that’s our go-to method of using any parts of an egg that are left over. Sometimes we don’t want pasta dough, or perhaps we’ve just made ice cream, leaving eight or so egg whites — what then? Well, it turns out that egg whites freeze perfectly. We have several small Tupperware containers that will hold single (or two small) egg whites. Then into the freezer with ’em. Of course, that still doesn’t help in using them up, it just puts it off for a while.
We looked in the freezer and there were a couple of containers with egg whites — oh, probably from a month or so ago — to use. About three whites total. So, what to do with them? Any suggestions?
We came up with the idea of modifying the Angel Food Cupcake recipe (it’s so easy, and it uses exactly three egg whites) to make a chocolate version. Turns out that the changes are trivial, basically substitute cocoa for the cornstarch (we think the original recipe called for cornstarch to mimic cake flour, as it also called for all-purpose flour, and a common substitution for cake flour is AP mixed with cornstarch).
You want to scratch up a batch? Good!
If possible, use the weight measurements for this recipe. These are such tiny amounts that even a bit more or less can make a big change in the outcome. We used cake flour and recommend it because it results in a lighter and more tender cake. In a pinch, substitute all-purpose flour. Make sure the egg whites are room temperature and from free-range hens. They’ll whip higher and lighter. Don’t skimp on the vanilla; 100% pure is the only way to go. For the cocoa, we used Dutch-processed, because it’s not as bitter.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven to ensure even baking, and place 6 cupcake papers in a muffin tin.
Measure. Now that we have a scale for measuring — we bought it for making bread — we use it for everything. It’s much easier and more accurate than using cups and spoons. But, whatever way you measure, place the sifter in a bowl, measure the cocoa into the sifter, toss in a pinch of salt, and then measure the flour into the sifter, too. It’ll all fit because these are such small amounts.
Sift. Cocoa clumps, so this really isn’t optional. If you want a nice light angel food cake, sift the flour, cocoa, and salt together into a small bowl. Then sift several more times. Sifting fluffs the flour, making for a lighter cake. Sure, it seems as if you have hardly any dry ingredients for this recipe, but it’s enough.
Beat egg whites. Using the whisk attachment, start beating the egg whites on medium- low to break them up. When they become foamy, add the cream of tartar and gradually increase the speed of the mixer to medium. Keep beating until soft peaks form.
Add sugar. With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the sugar. The key is to give the sugar time to dissolve into the egg whites, but not so much time that the whites are completely whipped before you add more sugar. Tend toward the slower side, as it’s harder to over-whip the egg whites once they have some sugar in them. Once the sugar is added, beat on medium-high until you have stiff, but glossy, peaks. This is a French meringue.
Add vanilla. Measure out the vanilla and beat it into the meringue. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and make sure that everything is mixed.
Fold. In three additions, fold in the flour mixture. For each addition, sprinkle flour mixture over the top and use a spatula to fold it in. When you fold in something that contains cocoa, you’ll notice that the egg whites are more likely to collapse (it’s the fat in the cocoa), so be a bit careful and gentle when you fold.
Divide. The batter is still like a meringue — very stiff — so use the spatula to scrape out the batter and fill the cupcake papers as best you can. This batter will not smooth out in the oven, so, if the top is jagged and rough, your cake will be jagged and rough when baked.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 17 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Cool. Place the cupcakes right on the stove — the warmest part — to cool completely. Setting the cupcakes on the stove will allow them to cool slowly, resulting in less shrinkage.
As we expected, these cupcakes were just a bit denser than the vanilla version. It’s just harder to keep the meringue from collapsing when you add cocoa. But, they were still quite good. They had the texture of denser angel food, with a good amount of chocolate flavor, but not overwhelmingly chocolate. The best part is that it’s only six cupcakes; we can (and did) eat them all for a single dessert. Four stars.