We’re rapidly approaching the season of sweets. It starts this Saturday (in the U.S.) with Halloween, and doesn’t end until some time in early spring. I’m not sure what I’m giving out to trick-or-treaters, although we don’t get too many of them because we’re not in a development-type neighborhood, which are very popular around the Seattle suburbs. Instead, we’re on a dark, quiet street, with a long, dark driveway surrounded by woods on either side. It’s great for lining with candle-lit pumpkins and makes for a slightly creepy experience.
I got the idea for this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, and while it seems somewhat tricky to pull off, it wasn’t. I use either a dehydrator and the oven, whichever is free. My dehydrator only reaches a high of 190 degrees F, so that’s the setting I use and the ghosts do fine.
Depending on your climate on how long you dried these, they will stay crunchy for a few hours or a few days.You can re-dry them in the oven or dehydrator, or seal them in a container of some kind when they’re cooled to room temperature to get or keep them crunchy. They’re fun in any case.
One thing I didn’t do is dip the bottom of each ghost in chocolate, which might help is picking them up when they get a bit sticky, if they get to that point. So it might be fun to coat the bottom with chocolate or nuts.
If you’re following SCD, use just honey, egg whites, lemon juice, and salt. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could add cocoa or vanilla to the meringue batter while whipping it. It’s on my list of things to try. I’ve also used natural yellow and red food dyes to make them orange.I added the food dye to the egg whites before I started to whip them.
Ghostly MeringuesIf you want marshmallow ghosts, keep them in the oven for about 1 hour. If you want full-on meringues that crunch and then melt in your mouth, leave them in closer to 1 1/2 hours or so. Test them by taking one out of the oven and letting it cool for a minute or so. These tend to absorb atmospheric moisture, so if you’re not in a dry climate, you might find you need to “re-dry” the meringues after a few hours. Just place them back in the oven or dehydrator for 20 minutes or so to re-dry.
- 1/2 cup of honey (instead of powdered sugar)
- 2 egg whites
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Pinch of cream of tartar (optional; or 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, or vinegar)
- Ghostly eyes (chocolate chips, nuts, currants, raisins)
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, or non-stick mats. Also prepare a pastry bag, or a plastic freezer bag with one of the ends cut slightly to let a small amount of meringue out when you squeeze it to shape the meringues.
- Add the honey to a saucepan and boil it somewhat vigorously until it starts to turn brown (or about 250 degrees F). It should form a ball when place a drop of the honey in cold water. Let it cool but keep it somewhat runny so you can pour it into the egg whites.
- Place the egg whites in a dry, clean mixing bowl. Begin whipping the egg whites. Once they become frothy (after a few minutes), add the salt and cream of tartar (or lemon juice), and continue whipping the egg whites until they start to get glossy. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with the whip attachment, but you could use a hand beater. Keep the egg whites whipping all the time.
- When the egg whites start to get slightly glossy, slowly drizzle the honey into the egg whites while you continue to whip them. The honey may spray a bit – to avoid this I drip the honey almost down the side of the bowl. Continue whipping them to maintain their peaks – about 5 more minutes. They should be very light and fluffy at this point. Keep an eye on them. If they’ve turned to liquid you’ve gone too far.
- Transfer the meringue mixture to the pastry bag or plastic bag.
- Preheat an oven or dehydrator to 200 degrees F.
- Holding the bag of meringue mixture, squeeze the bag in small circles to form the ghosts (on the parchment paper or non-stick surface). Don’t worry if they’re not perfect – they can pass as ghosts or mummies.
- Add eyes now or when they come out of the oven – either way works because they are still slightly sticky when they’re finished drying (and before they cool). If you’re adding chocolate, they may sweat a bit.
- Place the meringues in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until they are dry to the touch. Once they cool for a few minutes you can test them to see if they’re crunchy (you may have to taste one). If they’re not crunchy after this point, keep them in the oven or dehydrator longer. Since you’re not using powdered sugar (which gets them crunchier faster), you may have to leave them in a warm oven for several hours.
- Store them in a dry place for a few days. Re-dry as necessary.
- Happy Halloween!
Makes about 25 to 30 ghosts