Meringue Ghosts

October 31: Halloween

Get into the Halloween spirit and make meringue ghosts! The meringues are easy to make and these delightful desserts are light and airy just like the ghosts. They are cute like Casper and are a festive and family-friendly food for Halloween.

If there are any leftovers, we mix the meringue ghosts with fruit (kiwi and strawberry) and whipped cream into pavlova parfaits. These simply sweet snacks can make a Halloween buffet look boo-tiful!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ – ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring, clear
  • Black tube icing

Directions

In a mixer bowl, place the egg whites and beat until frothy. Mix in the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar then vanilla while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a ½-inch wide round tip. Fill the bag with the meringue. Pipe ghosts on the prepared pan by building up then loosening pressure on the bag and pulling away the tip from the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F for an hour. Turn off the oven, do not open and leave at least six hours (best if overnight) to dry.

Remove from the oven when cooled and loosen the meringues from the parchment paper. Use a black tube icing with a small round tip to pipe in the ghost’s facial features (eyes and mouth). Store in tightly covered container until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make more meringues! Try the recipes for skeleton bones, kiwi pavlova and kisses.
  • We have tried using black edible marker pens but they do not leave a very strong ghost facial expression. We have also tried using black gel icing but they tend to be runny.
  • Search our blog for more Halloween recipes under the Theme Menus tab.

Ghost Peeps Cupcakes

ghostpeepscupcakes

October 31:Halloween

Get into the Halloween a”spirit” and decorate devil’s food cupcakes with marshmallow ghost Peeps and pumpkin candies. They are a simple, cute and quick treat to make with the kids and they sure beat store-bought desserts. Plain cupcakes can be transformed from boring to “boo-tiful” and can be a festive food for Halloween.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Devil’s food cupcakes (or other favorite flavor)
  • Chocolate frosting (canned or homemade)
  • Marshmallow Peeps ghosts
  • Pumpkin candies (Brach’s brand)

Directions

Bake cupcakes according to the package directions. Cool completely. Spread or pipe frosting on the cupcakes.

ghostpeepscupcakessteps1

Separate the marshmallow Peeps ghosts in the package by cutting between them. Stick a toothpick on the bottom of the Peeps ghost. Insert into the top of a cupcake. Finish decorating by placing a pumpkin candy next to it.

ghostpeepscupcakessteps2

Notes

  • Change the cupcake paper colors to orange, purple, green or other Halloween liners.
  • Vanilla can be substituted for the chocolate frosting.
  • Search our blog for other Halloween recipes.

 

Day of the Dead

(Día de los Muertos) Cookies

November 2: All Souls Day

Having lived among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in South Texas, we came to know many as our friends and learned about their holiday traditions and customs. Around Halloween leading up to All Souls Day (Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos), we have seen several homes, churches and other significant cultural places set up colorful ofrendas (altars) as tributes to loved ones who have passed away. Displayed on these altars are framed photos of the dead, cut paper banners, flowers (marigolds), candles and/or incense, religious symbols and icons, food and other toys/trinkets. Some communities have lively parades with people dressed in skeleton costumes. Some families visit the gravesite of the deceased, decorate it and have a feast there.

At first, outside observers find the festivities excessive and even creepy. But in time we have come to appreciate the Mexican rituals that celebrate the lives of the dearly departed so that they are never forgotten! How nice it is to be remembered in a fond and fun way!

We are grateful that our amigos have taught us a little more about the Day of the Dead and invited us to participate in some of their family activities. Learn more about this Mexican holiday from the Inside Mexico website. And celebrate life (not death) with these chocolate cookies decorated with colorful fondant cutouts!

Recipe

(Adapted from Southern Living Incredible Cookies)

For the chocolate cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, ground cinnamon and chili powder or cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Roll the dough into a large ball, divide in half or thirds, cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour). Roll out dough ¼-inch thick in between two sheets of waxed paper.

Cut out shapes with a skull-shaped cookie cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to firm up the dough. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for five minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and become crisp.

For the decorations

  • Powdered sugar
  • White fondant
  • Red fondant
  • Other different colored fondant
  • Colorful edible markers

Directions

On a clean surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll out the white fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out enough skull shapes for all the cookies. Set aside in a covered container so the fondant does not dry out. Lightly brush the chocolate cookie with a little water and position the white skull-shaped fondant over it. Smooth out the edges.

Roll out the red fondant and cut out a tiny heart shape using the mini heart plunger tool. Dab a little water on the red heard and position it upside down in the center of the white skull-shaped fondant. Use different shaped flower cutters on different colored fondant to make the eye layers.

Use the end of a large round tip to make the eyeballs. Attach “eyes and eyeball” layers with a little water. Roll out different colored fondant and cut a small daisy shape. Position part of the daisy shape on top of the skull.

Trim off the three petal parts on top and save this to position on the chin as a decoration, attaching both with a brush of water. Use different color edible markers to draw the facial decorations (we used dots, stitches and swirls). Be as colorful and creative as possible. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Notes

  • We got our skull-shaped cookie cutter at the gift shop in the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, Texas. As morbid as the experience seemed to be, the exhibits and historical information were presented very well. Everything was fascinating and well worth the trip and visit.
  • Pan de muerto (sweet “bread of the dead”) and sugar skulls are foods related to Día de los Muertos. We hope to feature these recipes in upcoming blog posts.
  • Vanilla sugar cookies may be substituted in this recipe. But because chocolate originated in Mexico and has a nice color contrast to the white fondant, we baked dark chocolate cookies instead. We also used fondant to decorate them because we still have not mastered icing (outlining and flooding) our cookies!
  • Search our blog for more Mexican, Tex-Mex and Halloween recipes.