Culture

The Hipster’s Cookbook: Halloween Treats

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Each week in the Hipster’s Cookbook, Meghan Bongartz teaches you how to cook something delicious when you’re on a budget.

Hey guys, tomorrow is Halloween! I really love Halloween, but celebrating in Chicago confuses me. Do kids go trick-or-treating on the actual holiday, or the weekend before or after? And if it’s the weekend, how do they know which day everyone else is going? In all of the years I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve never had a trick-or-treater show up at my door on any day of the week, and I don’t know if this is because I’ve lived in apartments instead of actual houses or because kids ask for candy from stores instead of from actual people here. Every year this bothers me, and the answer still evades me.

Obviously most people my age celebrate on the weekend, but that’s because alcohol has for the most part replaced candy as the treat in question. As someone with a serious sweet tooth, this is somewhat disappointing to me. People go out drinking every weekend. When else is it acceptable to eat your weight in candy in a single evening? Fortunately, I’m incapable of showing up to a party/gathering/thing where I have to talk to other people without bringing food along, so I usually just provide my own sweets.

Meringue cookies have somehow acquired the reputation of being a healthy dessert because they are fat-free and therefore fairly low on calories. I call bullshit, because they’re also packed with a spectacular amount of sugar, but you don’t have to tell people about that part if you don’t want to. Personally, I think the amount of sugar in these cookies is fitting for a holiday which, for a lot of people, is mostly about actively supporting the dentistry trade by giving themselves cavities. I know I already talked about meringues here, so I won’t go into detail about all of the things to be careful with when making meringue, but a few reminders never hurt anyone:

  • Moisture is terrible for meringues! If your kitchen is humid or there are traces of grease in your mixing bowl, this won’t work.
  • If you get any yolk in your egg whites, you’re going to have to start over, so be careful.
  • For a meringue cookie (as opposed to a meringue topping on a pie), you want to completely dry out your egg white mixture without burning it, so baking at a very low heat for a long time works best.

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Meringue Ghosts

6 egg whites

½  tsp cream of tartar

¾  cup sugar

¼ tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 oz dark chocolate, melted

1) Preheat oven to 225° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer at high speed until foamy, 1-2 minutes.

3) Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat at high speed for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

4) Add almond and vanilla extracts and mix until combined.

5) Transfer mixture to a cake icing bag or mechanical cake decorator (these are great, and I recommend them) fitted with a large round tip, or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in the corner if you don’t have either of these. Pipe the mixture into two-inch mounds on the parchment paper.

6) Bake at 225° for 2 hours. Turn oven off, and let the meringues stand in the closed oven for up to an hour.

7) Remove carefully from baking sheets and use a toothpick dipped in chocolate to draw ghost faces on the cookies. If you’re making these and it’s not Halloween, you can also just dip the cookies in chocolate.