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Very soon, I will be boarding a plane for a flight to Rome.

I will be spending my very first Christmas outside Canada. I will be spending my holidays, along with my mother and brother, in the loving company of my father’s family in Ascoli Piceno.

We’ve been planning this trip for months and even though the time to depart is here, it still seems a bit unbelievable to me.

Then again, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s been ten years since my beloved papa’ left us.

Most often, at this time of year, I find myself trying to focus on the year that was and the year ahead. Through it all, though, is the one constant: my wish for all the people that I love and care about.

This holiday season, I wish them all joy, light and warmth.

I won’t be around for the next three weeks or so and this little spot will be fairly quiet.

But my wish for you is that you are surrounded by the ones that you love with much good food and much laughter.

Happy Holidays and all the best to all of you!

Ciao!

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Chocolate Meringue Cookies
Recipe from Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of The American Academy in Rome, The Rome Sustainable Food Project.

2.5 cups sugar
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch-processed)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
8 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the salt and whisk at high speed until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the sugar/cocoa/cinnamon mixture, in a steady stream, with the mixer at medium speed. Increase speed to high and continue whipping until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy. With a rubber spatula clean the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is fully incorporated.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice (I used a star-shaped tip), place the meringue mixture in the pastry bag and pipe out cookies in whatever design you like. Be sure to leave a few inches between each meringue cookie.

Bake the cookies for approximately an hour and 10 minutes and then turn the oven off. Let the cookies cool in the oven for one hour. Remove from the oven and transfer the meringue cookies to a wire rack to continue cooling. Leave overnight so that the cookies will dry out completely.

If you wish, you can dip the bottom of the cookies in melted chocolate or drizzle melted chocolate on top for some extra dazzle.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for a week or so.

Enjoy!