Friday, October 30, 2009

Ghostess With The Mostess

Spooky & Cute: Little Ghost Meringue Cookies
When I was younger, my Mom used to make meringue cookies. It seemed like she made them for every occasion. She made plain ones, pastel-tinted ones, and even mint chocolate chip ones. I think she must've loved making them as much as I loved eating them. As a youngster, I tried making them by myself and they turned out gooey and chewy. We still ate them. But they didn't have that airy crispness that made hers so wonderful. I always meant to try them again, but with so many other cookies out there that weren't finicky, they never were attempted a second time.

As fate would have it, the other day we found ourselves wanting cookies (needing, really) and there was not a lick of butter in the house. (Everyone knows that the "b" in baking stands for butter). We were dejected for sure. But inspiration struck and I said "Honey, there IS a cookie that doesn't call for butter: meringue cookies! Hot diggety!" And so I planned to make some. But before I did, I realized that it's Hallowe'en and I remembered seeing those same meringue cookies made up like little ghosties with chocolate eyes. How perfect was that?

Light and ephemeral, just like "real" ghosts, there are hardly any ingredients at all to speak of. Had we not run out of butter just before Hallowe'en, who knows if I ever would have attempted meringue cookies again. Funny how those things happen, huh? You might say, it's almost... spooky even. Mummy will be so proud...
Notes: Used the recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It intrigued me with it's use of powdered sugar. I doubled it before thinking about oven space, cookie height, and rack clearance. Kitchen was cold and the egg whites were still chilly after being out of the fridge almost an hour. Took over half an hour for stiff peaks to form. Decided that it had to be ready, as it just wasn't changing anymore. Added a quarter teaspoon of vanilla in the very last minute of whisking and went for it... 

Filled up a disposable pastry bag (without a tip) with the mixture and started piping mini-ghosts. Refilled it for the second tray-ful and continued. Put both trays in the oven and continued to follow recipe. It looked like the cookies on the second tray had started to shlump after 10 minutes in oven, or maybe I just made them squatter because I was afraid there wasn't enough clearance under the top rack? Make sure to leave them in the oven for as long as the recipe states... or even longer. They must dry out completely or they will be chewy on the inside.
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