Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meringue Cookies aka "Spooks"

We grew up enjoying this tasty little treat at our Grandmother's house. Every Halloween I'd look forward to eating some of her holiday spooks! She didn't only make meringue spooks, she used it to make little cups for fruit or custards to go into. She made roundish cookies. She made a nest with it one year for Easter. She could also whip up mile high meringue on top of a lemon meringue pie. So the possibilities are limitless.

This batter can be very temperamental, but once you get the hang of it you'll see it's sooooo easy!
My spooks turned out a little on the brown side (over cooked) they still tasted great, so we called them California "tanned" Spooks! This recipe is a little different than my grandmother's. I found it to create a more stable batter, thus easier to use!!

3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (you can also use a brown paper bag). Combine sugar and cornstarch in small bowl.
  2. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment(you don't have to have a stand mixer, it's just faster), beat egg whites , vanilla and salt at high speed until very soft peaks start to form (peaks should slowly lose their shape when whisk is removed), 30-45 seconds. With mixer running at medium speed, slowly add sugar mixture in steady stream down side of mixer bowl (process should take about 30 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Return mixer to high speed and beat until glossy, stiff peaks have formed, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Working quickly, place meringue in pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip or large zipper-lock bag with 1/2-inch of corner cut off. Pipe meringues into "S" shapes for spooks or into 1 1/4-inch wide mounds about an inch high on baking sheets.
  4. Bake 1 hour, rotating pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Turn off oven and allow meringues to cool in oven at least 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before serving, about 10 minutes.
Meringues may be a little soft immediately after being removed from the oven but will stiffen as they cool. To minimize stickiness on humid or rainy days, allow the meringues to cool in a turned-off oven for an additional hour. Cooled cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.