I've been itching to get back into the kitchen because it's been nearly two weeks since I've had a chance to cook. Work has been so busy and I've been so exhausted! But fortunately, that didn't keep me from cranking out some cupcakes just in time for Halloween!
My two creations last week were chocolate cupcakes (using my favorite Test Kitchen recipe) topped with chocolate frosting (from a can ... eek!) and ghost sprinkles (an adorable find from Sendik's) and white chocolate cupcakes (my very own recipe, which I'll share when I'm confident it's perfected) topped with chocolate ganache and ... the cutest meringues you've ever seen!
My good friend Sue sent me this recipe several weeks ago, and I was immediately anxious to try it ... despite the fact that I've never liked meringue. For as long as I can remember, I've been scraping meringue off of lemon pies, avoiding it in baked Alaskas, and shunning the baked meringues that some people try to pass off as cookies. But these little guys were so cute that I was willing to give meringue a break. I figured they'd make awesome cupcake toppings, even if they tasted gross.
Well I'm still going to scrape the meringue off of my pie, but it turns out I didn't know what I was missing when it came to those cookies. When meringues are homemade they're like heaven melting in your mouth. Smooth and sweet with just the right amount of crunch, these ghosts are as tasty as they are adorable!
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar (see note)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Edible ink pen
Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a pastry bag (or large ziploc bag) ready.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until egg whites hold soft peaks. Add sugar, a little at a time, and beat on the highest possible speed until egg white hold very stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. (The sugar should also completely dissolve. Rub a bit of meringue between your fingers - if it feels gritty, continue to beat until it's as smooth as possible.) Beat in vanilla extract.
Before filling your piping bag, dab a bit of meringue under each corner of the parchment to adhere it to the baking sheet. (This will prevent it from sliding on its way in and out of the oven!) Transfer meringue to piping bag and, holding bag perpendicular to baking sheet, pipe 2-inch high mounds of meringue.
Bake meringues 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until dry and crisp to the touch. Turn oven off, crack oven door, and allow meringues to dry in oven several hours or overnight. Use an edible ink pen to draw eyes and mouths on your ghosts. Boo-tiful and delicious!