Saturday, October 29, 2011
Baking will be my contribution to Halloween. I like Halloween in the sense that I love the crisp fall weather that surrounds it. I'll take any excuse to enjoy some scary movies or books, and I look forward to Halloween episodes of my favorite shows. However, it's the decorating part of the holiday where I start to lose interest. There seems to be no way I can motivate myself to put decorations around my house or bother to actually dress up myself.
So here's my version of Halloween decorations:
I saw these on foodgawker.com, which has become one of my favorite ways to waste time. They seemed far too cute not to try. Also, I knew they would make great cupcake toppers.
• 4 large egg whites, room temperature
• 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
• 1 cup sugar
• ½-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
(depends on how much vanilla flavor you want)
• miniature chocolate chips for the eyes
• regular chocolate chips for the mouth
(I’ve also seen black frosting decorating gel instead
of chocolate chips.)
Preheat oven to 200. Add eggs whites to a mixing bowl. Be careful not to get ANY yoke in the whites. Beat with a whisk attachment until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla. Add sugar in slowly and continue to beat until the meringue holds really stiff peaks. This will take a few minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The directions I used recommended using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip, but I use a Pampered Chef decorator. I placed a little meringue on each corner of the baking sheet before I set the parchment paper down. This holds the paper down so it doesn’t slide or roll up.
Hold the pastry bag or decorator perpendicular to the baking sheet and pipe out the meringue with even pressure. This took a little practice before the ghosts began to really look ghost-like.
Bake the ghosts for 1 ½ hours or until they feel crisp on the outside and can be easily lifted off the parchment.
I applied the chocolate chips right out of the oven. Some recipes claim you can put them in before you bake. I used two mini chocolate chips for the eyes and 1 regular for the mouth.
These can be eaten by themselves or used as cupcake toppers.
Since I was focusing more on the ghosts, I did cheat and use a box cake mix. One thing I don’t believe you can take a shortcut on is frosting. I made a vanilla buttercream, which gave me a chance to try out my vanilla bean paste I recently bought. (The verdict on the vanilla paste was that it didn’t pack quite enough punch, hence the addition of vanilla extract.)
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
• ¼ tsp vanilla extract
• pinch of salt
• 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix cream, vanillas and salt together in a small bowl. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar until completely combined. Add the cream mixture and beat for 3 or 4 minutes until fluffy and smooth.
I was really happy with how these ghosts turned out. I did find one other Halloween recipe I want to try, but I haven't been able to figure out how to make it. If anyone can figure out how to do this, let me know.