My neighborhood rocks on Halloween. How can it not? On my street alone, which is exactly a half mile long, we have at least 30 children under 13 and a rock-band-leader teenager who lives at the top. Parents stroll along with “well-stocked” wagons in tow while live music pours onto the road. The kids, decked out in the latest costume trends, run freely from house to house racking up on what ultimately ends up being pillowcases full of treats.
When my kids were younger, I used to host a Halloween open house complete with a spooktacular spread of heavy picking food and holiday-inspired goodies like Mummy Dogs, Jack-o’-Lantern Cheese Balls and Wicked Witch Fingers (sorry, I wasn’t blogging back then so I don’t have any pictures to share). The open house thing worked well during those years because my kids were pooped after only a couple of doorbell rings and I didn’t mind leaving kid-less company behind while I made the rounds. Now that my three are older and have the energy to turn corner after corner after corner, the trick-or-treating part of the evening lasts a couple of hours. So an open house is no longer doable. My kids are fine with that. They don’t miss being force-fed mass quantities of real food before their ghostly adventures. But what they do miss are the themed-treats. So this year, I broke out the egg whites and sugar to whip up Ghosslings of meringue ghosts. My initial intent was to make them spooky. But they ended up cutesy. They actually remind me of the pudgy ghosts on the … who you gonna call … Ghostbusters … uniforms. What do you think? If you’re not into the coffee thing, just eliminate the expresso powder and you’ll end up with nice, vanilla-y meringues. Hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween!
Cafe au Lait Meringue Ghosts
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant expresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed until foamy. With the machine running, gradually add the sugar. When half the mixture is incorporated, add the expresso powder and vanilla. Continue beating until all the sugar and expresso powder is dissolved and the meringue is shiny and stiff. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe 3-inch swirls on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, spoon mixture into 10 to 12 mounds. Place baking sheet in oven, turn oven off and leave cookies in the closed oven, undisturbed, until crisp and completely dry, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Store in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 large meringue ghosts.