You're so lame you broke the Lame-o-meter!

Everything about that phrase makes me happy. It reminds me of potato sack dresses, juggling a pile of books in our arms between classes, basking in the warm sun sitting on square wooden picnic tables and most of all of the uncontrollable laughter that rips into our sides when my school friends are all together. Where would I be without them?

The same jokes are told over and over again (like the one above) along with new ones we have learnt in our years apart. "Hi-5!" I shout to my awesome friend Alex. Annie turns around and remarks, "It doesn't even count as a Hi-5 her hand isn't big enough." The small size of Alex's hands as well as Julia's height, Bel's lovingly painful bear hugs and Tiffany's lame jokes are things which never leave us no matter how far apart we are, or how much we have experienced in our separate lives.

During schoolies, a thoroughly toned down and relaxed beachy affair, there sat a large fridge sized (I kid you not) box full of junk food in the kitchen. By the end of it, all the food was gone. Most of it disappeared during the multiple movie marathons we held. The most memorable would probably be the scary movie marathon. By the end of it we had all either a) screamed and laughed our voices dry, b) lost circulation to our hands because of a certain someone clutching our forearm or c) made a trip to the toilet accompanied by a toilet buddy. Some of the best moments of my life were spent in that crowded beach house in Sorrento.

One thing we all have in common is our love for food, but this is probably the case for most groups of friends. Food brings people together, stimulates conversation and definitely makes people happier. So for a Thank you gift for my school friends, and also as a birthday treat for Vania, I made a batch of Chewy Chocolate Meringues. Being in a rush, the meringues are jumbo sized as they were plopped out using an ice cream scoop and a tablespoon. But next time I try this recipe, I'll probably stick to bite sized amount as they are quite sweet. I would also recommend using quite dark chocolate, at least above the 45% cocoa used in these.

Chewy Chocolate Meringues
Adapted from a recipe on Bakerella from Salty Tart Bakery
Makes 2 dozen or 60 3.5cm cookies

1 Cup (250ml) large egg whites - about 7 eggs
2 Cups (500g) sugar (I used 450g, and it still worked out fine)
5tbs (30g) natural cocoa powder
125g dark chocolate, finely chopped
125g cocoa nibs (can omit these if you want, no idea where to buy them from either but they were still perfect without them)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line baking sheets with baking paper.

In a clean, dry, heatproof bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk together the egg whites and the sugar until combined. Set over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water underneath or it will be too hot. Whisk constantly until all the sugar is dissolved. Test this by rubbing a small amount between your fingers. It should be free of any granules or grainy bits and perfectly smooth (a little bit slimy feeling but it's a good way to check). Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs on high in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer until stiff and glossy. Sift cocoa over the meringue, sprinkle chopped chocolate and cocoa nibs, if using over the top. Then, fold it together gently with a spatula until combined. I thought that the end result would have chocolate chunks in it but it seems that the heat from the egg whites melts pretty much all of the chocolate into the mixture.

Use a scoop to drop even amounts of mixture onto the prepared baking sheets about 3cm apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Then, carefully rotate the pans and bake for another 8-9 minutes until the cookies are fluffy and full of cracks, or hard to touch. Transfer the cookies, leaving them on their baking paper, to wire racks to cool. Alternatively, you can cool them on the trays.

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