Meringue, a mixture of egg whites and sugar is a (super)natural for Halloween baking. Ghostly white, like the color of bare, bleached bones, meringue is a great medium for fun Halloween treats. Left soft and fluffy, meringue can be plopped on top of cupcakes, then shaped into ghostly figures using a couple of spoons or your clean fingers (tip: dip the spoons or fingers into cold water and shake off the excess, leaving a thin film of water – this will keep the meringue from sticking). Or pipe the meringue through a plain round tip onto parchment-lined baking sheets to form gravestones, skulls or, my favorite, fingers and bones, which are then baked until crisp and dry.
French meringue is the easiest type to make, and is what I use for my meringue bones. There are several things you can do to ensure success with meringue. Start with a clean bowl and whisk attachment or beaters – wash them in hot soapy water just before use. Separate your eggs carefully so there are no bits of yolk in the whites (fat and dirt inhibit the whipping of whites, and may render them completely useless). Have everything you need ready to complete the project prepped and ready-to-use before you begin whipping. Preheat the oven. Trace your templates onto parchment (or simply pipe freehand, if you prefer), and turn the parchment pencil-side down on the baking sheet. For templates, draw a bone or finger, or trace around a bone-shaped dog treat. Put your piping tip in your pastry bag. If you are going to make bony fingers, paint whole, blanched almonds with red or black food coloring to use as fingernails, and give them 30 minutes to dry before starting the meringue (or, use candy-covered wedding almonds, which come in an array of pastel and bright colors).
In addition to being fun and creepy and sweetly delicious all at the same time, these are great make-ahead treats. They are baked for an hour, then left in a turned-off oven all night to finish drying completely. In the morning, they will be, ahem, bone-dry and very crispy. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep for weeks. Note: Do not attempt to make these on a humid day or they will never dry properly, remaining soft and soggy. The bony fingers with colored nails will be finished when baked, but I like to finish any other types of bones with a bit of “blood.” Melt white candy melts and tint with red food color (or purchase dark red melts if you can find them). Holding a bone by one end straight up and down, pour a spoonful of red “blood” over the end of the bone, allowing any excess to drip down the length of the bone. Once the chocolate has stopped moving, set the bone down on the parchment and allow the “blood” time to cool and set. You can also use this technique on the fingers, dipping the severed end of the finger in the “blood.” For a bit of extra fun, melt some additional colored-melts and pipe fancy rings on the fingers – you can even top the “jewels” with sparkling sugar crystals for extra glamour. These are good, crunchy cookie snacks, and are great fun tucked into clear cellophane bags tied with a black bow as party favors. I’ve even served them with chocolate fondue!
More Rattling Meringue Bone ideas and recipes follow after the jump