Spooky Ghost Meringues11:15 AM
With only a couple days left until Halloween, I thought I should post these adorable little ghost meringues.
Stop right there! Wait just a minute! I know it's practically second nature to turn and run in the opposite direction when you see the word "meringue" in a recipe. In fact, after my first attempt at a meringue ended in disaster I avoided them like the plague for years! However, after researching the matter and learning more about them, meringues are now one of my favorite things to make.
Meringues are funny little creatures. Give them what they want and they grow quickly and stand up tall, but give them something different and they roll over and play dead. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Make sure your bowl is clean and free from any water or oils. I prefer to use metal or glass, since plastic bowls tend to hold onto the oils.
- Eggs separate best when cold, but egg whites whip to perfection at room temperature. Separate your eggs and then set aside the whites for about 30 minutes to allow them to come to room temperature.
- Be careful when separating the eggs. Little pieces of shell or yolk will keep the whites from whipping to their full potential. If some ends up in the bowl, don't worry - just set it aside for another project and start with some new eggs.
- A general rule with meringues is 1/4 cup of sugar for each egg white. That right there will make a beautiful meringue. Adding a little Cream of Tartar helps to stabilize the eggs, making the meringue a little easier to work with.
- Don't double the recipes! Really. It throws off the chemical reactions and doesn't work. If you need more than the recipe makes, make it in two (or more) batches.
Spooky Ghost Meringues
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 c sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 200.
In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, begin to whip eggs whites at medium speed. When eggs start to look frothy, add the cream of tartar.
Continue mixing, increasing the speed to high until the whites have increased in volume and form stiff peaks. (Check out my awesome illustration of stiff and soft peaks at the bottom of the post!) Add the salt and continue mixing.
Gradually add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. You may have to stop mixing to scrape down the sides once all the sugar is added. The meringue will become very stiff and glossy.
Once all of the sugar has been added, rub a small amount of the meringue between your thumb and finger. If it feels gritty, keep mixing. When all of the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is completely smooth, it's ready to use.
Gently spoon the meringue into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip or a plastic bag with a half inch opening cut in the corner. Using a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pipe into small (about 2 inch) mounds. (Meringues shouldn't spread, so don't worry too much about the spacing.)
Bake for about 1 1/2 hrs, until meringues are dry to the touch and pop off of parchment paper easily. Turn oven off and let cool in oven a few more hours or even over night. (Option 2: Instead of leaving the meringues in the oven to cool and dry out, you can pull them out right after baking. This results in a crispy outer shell and a soft, marshmallowy inside.)
For the Face: The ghosts can be enjoyed as is, or you can decorate them with cute little faces.
If you choose to do this, just melt some chocolate chips (you only need about 1/2 cup) and put them in a pastry bag with a very fine round tip or a plastic bag with a tiny hole cut into the corner.
Carefully pipe little faces onto the ghosts. Allow the chocolate to dry at room temperature.