Oh so Scary (but oh so cute) Gluten-Free Ghosts

It's that wicked time of the year and you're caught out again, frantically searching your cupboards for something to give those pesky trick-or-treaters. Well how about giving these little ghosts a try - they are gluten-free and also dairy free (depending on how you decorate). You can put one as an extra treat on top of a ghoulish basket filled with either sweets or a scary surprise depending on how pesky those trick-or-treaters are!

Because the meringue is so sweet, I think it's nice to dip the bottom of your ghosts in melted dark chocolate (which provides a solid base) and then dip the base again in less sweet flavours, like toasted nuts and coconut. The combination of the chewiness of the meringue with the smooth texture of the chocolate and the crunchiness of the nuts or coconut makes you want to scream for more! (sorry couldn't resist that one!)

Makes: between 12 - 24 so scary (but oh so cute) meringue ghosts

Ingredients:

·        2 egg whites, room temperature

·        1/8 tsp cream of tartar

·        3/4 cup icing sugar

·        1/2 tsp flavoured extract, like vanilla or almond

·        100g dark chocolate

·        toasted nuts (I used pecans), coconut, sprinkles or anything else that takes your fancy!

Preparation:

1.Preheat the oven to 100 degrees celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the room temperature egg whites in an electric mixing bowl.

2.Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until the egg whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue beating on medium-high until the whites have turned an opaque white colour and hold soft peaks.

3.Add the icing sugar a few spoonfuls at a time with the mixer running. Then add vanilla/almond extract and turn the mixer to high speed. Continue to beat the egg whites until they are very thick, glossy, and a shiny white colour. The whites should hold stiff peaks.

4.Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Scoop your meringue mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch round tip, or if you don’t have this, into a large Ziploc bag with a 1cm (½ inch) hole cut in the corner. Hint: do not make the mistake I did, and use an icing bag which is open at one end - not my greatest moment!

5.Pipe your meringue into ghost shapes about 3cm wide and 5cm tall. You can either do this by squeezing the bag and pulling up gradually, making one big “blobby” ghost, or by making a series of concentric circles spiraling upward.

6.Bake the meringues in the preheated oven for an hour. After an hour, open the oven door and continue to cook for 15-30 minutes, then turn the oven off, close the door, and allow the meringues to sit until completely cool, about 1 hour.

7.Once the meringues are crisp and at room temperature, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.

8. Dip your ghosts in the melted chocolate, and scrape the bottoms against the lip of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. If you’re dipping them in other toppings, immediately press the bottom of the ghost into the bowl of toppings so they adhere to the wet chocolate. Dip a toothpick in the remaining melted chocolate and give each ghost two dots for eyes and, if you desire, a mouth or other features.

9.Refrigerate the ghosts to set the chocolate, about 5-10 minutes. Do not refrigerate them any longer than absolutely necessary, as they will absorb moisture from the refrigerator and lose their crispness. Store Meringue Ghosts in an airtight container at room temperature.

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