Sunday, October 4, 2009

Halloween Buffet Part 1: Goblins' Bones

It's almost my turn to host the weekly meeting of my knitting group. Usually, the knitting is accompanied by heavy snacking and since law students are all rather competitive in nature, I think hors d'oeuvre making has become just one more thing for us to compete in. The bar has been set pretty high: bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, cheese straws, eggplant with goat cheese and tomatoes. Rather than continue this vicious gourmet cycle, I thought I would attempt something completely different and set up a Halloween-themed buffet. So I'm going to try to come up with a creepy, original recipe every week until the end of October. For the first recipe, I was thinking about bones. A silver platter piled high with edible bones seemed perfect for a spooky buffet, but it took me some time to decide what the right medium would be (having nearly an hour-long commute gave me plenty of time to think, though). . . Meringue! Crispy, sweet, lighter-than-air meringue bones. After reading a multitude of recipes, I came up with a mix that seemed to be a reasonable, middle-of-the-road meringue. I also decided to write my recipe in terms of relative proportions rather than a set amount, to make it easier to make larger quantities. To test this recipe, I used three egg whites, which made about 14 bones that are about 6"-9" long.

Meringue Bones
For each egg white:
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/32 tsp. salt (for 4 egg whites, use 1/8 tsp. salt)
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract (as you increase the amount of this recipe, do not use more than 3/4 tsp. extract)

1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line two baking sheets with non-stick mats or parchment paper. Fill a small dish with water and set nearby baking sheets
2) Mix sugar and cornstarch in a measuring cup, set aside
3) Separate egg whites from yolks, setting yolks aside for another purpose
4) Combine egg whites, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or other mixing bowl if using a hand mixer with wire beaters)
5) Whip egg whites on high speed until very soft peaks form, about 30-40 seconds. Do not overbeat the eggs, or the sugar will not dissolve properly when added and your meringues will be gritty
6) Lower speed to medium and SLOWLY pour in sugar/cornstarch mixture.
7) Increase speed back to high and whip until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about another 30-45 seconds
8) Working quickly, use a rubber spatula to scoop the meringue into a piping bag (or a one gallon freezer bag as I used)
9) If using a freezer bag, squeeze the mixture into one corner and twist up the top before snipping off the corner
10) Pipe bone shapes onto the prepared baking sheets
11) Dip a finger in the small bowl of water and smooth out any points or particularly lumpy areas
12) Bake for 20 minutes at 250, rotating the sheets, then lower temperature to 225 degrees and bake another 30 minutes
13) Turn oven off but allow the bones to remain in the oven for a full hour after baking

Be careful when removing the bones from the baking sheets, as they will be brittle at this point and may break. Don't worry if one does break, though; it will be delicious crushed up on ice cream. Also, I made some smaller, rib-like bones for illustrative purposes, but really bones that vary so much in size should be baked separately because they don't need nearly as much time. A really ambitious Halloween party host or hostess could construct most of a skeleton out of meringue bones and lay it the length of the buffet table (ribs, vertebrae, pelvis, arms, legs); it would be so perfectly creepy! This recipe could also be used to make the traditional, kiss-shaped meringues for the holidays (consider peppermint extract instead of vanilla). Be creative and enjoy!

3 comments:

  1. Very cool! Make a batch and come on up for the Halloween party in the Spencer basement on the 30th. Would love to see you!!!!

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