I have big plans for Halloween. Hoo yeah.
I’m gonna dress up a stressed-out student locked in a tiny apartment. I’ve got all details of my costume already worked out — no make-up, a ponytail, ratty sweatshirt, leggings, and flip-flops for when I need to leave my room and go pay the pizza guy.
And, when I’m not digging out loonies from my laundry fund to give to the pizza guy, I’m hatching big plans for Halloween… they involve cupcakes, but they start with meringue bones…
Firstly, I did a lot of reading about meringues before attempting to make meringue cookies.
Here are some key things I learned that you need to remember: egg whites can be very finicky and difficult to work with if you don’t get everything exactly right.
1) Step one on the road to getting it exactly right: all of your equipment needs to be 100% clean and free of grease. Just to be on the safe side, I gave my bowls and utensils a good rub down with white vinegar.
2) Egg whites won’t whip up properly if there’s any fat in the whites, so you need to be careful when separating them from the yolks. If you break a yolk into your whites, you’ll have to start again. I recommend separating eggs while the eggs are cold, and then waiting 30 minutes to warm the whites to room temperature — 3) especially because egg whites need to be at room temperature, too.
Oh — and, unless you’re a machine, 4) you’ll definitely need a stand-mixer and a pastry bag with a 1cm round tip to make these.
*adapted from Joy of Baking online
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup super fine (berry/caster) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon extract (any flavor)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Preheat your oven to 200°F (or 105°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Separate your eggs while cold. Let them sit for 30 minutes to warm up.
Using the whisk attachment on a stand-mixer, start to whip the whites on medium-low speed. Add in your flavoured extract and vinegar, then crank the mixer speed up to maximum.
Whisk on maximum speed until “soft peaks” form — this should take about 5 minutes, and the meringue will look light and foamy. Without stopping the mixer, slowly add your sugar to the meringue and continue beating for another 5 minutes, or until you get “stiff peaks” and the meringue is thick, shiny, and creamy.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets. I experimented a bit to see what sort of piping would give me the best bone shape — in the end, I went with doing one side of a bone at a time.
I piped a strip like this: ] (one vertical side of the bone) and then made another strip like this: [ on the other side, overlapping the meringue piping in the column of the bone (giving me a shape sorta like this: ][ ).
Once you’re done piping, place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 100 to 120 minutes. Yes, seriously.
In fact, if it’s humid and raining out, you might want to give it the full 2 hours of baking time. Check on your cookies and rotate the trays after an hour, making sure that the corners and bottoms of the cookies aren’t turning brown — if they are, then turn your oven down 25°F and continue baking.
These light and airy cookies will keep for nearly a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Of course these treats are sweet and crunchy and good to eat on their own, but I’m saving mine to garnish some special Halloween-themed cupcakes. I can’t wait to put them to good use! Yum!