Recipe: Zero Peppermint Chocolate Meringue Cookies
It’s Halloween time! Nightmare before Christmas is one of my favorites this time of year. In fact, I’ve made something inspired by this movie before, but with so many fun characters in Halloweentown I knew I could probably come up with another.
I decided to make something in the shape of Zero, Jack’s loyal & adorable ghost doggy, because I’m always a sucker for when scary meets cute. I’ve seen a lot of meringue ghosts made this time of year, and when I was researching ways to shape meringue cookies I discovered that meringue swans are a common dessert - made by piping two halves of a swan body, a head with a long neck, and sticking them all together like a sandwich around ice cream or custard. Why not make a ghost dog the same way?
It can take a little practice to get the head shape right on these, but the body is pretty simple, since it’s basically a white sheet (Zero is an old-school ghost dog). Instead of ice cream or custard, I decided to fill these meringue sandwiches with dark chocolate ganache to make them a little easier for sharing at a party, but I still recommend serving as soon as possible after assembling, lest your meringue lose its crispiness because of the moisture from the ganache.
1 cup superfine sugar (you can also blitz regular sugar in a blender/food processor for a few seconds if you don’t have any on hand)
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 250°F. Whisk the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt, then the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Add the peppermint extra and increase speed to high, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Transfer some of your meringue batter to a piping bag and snip off the end to make a medium-sized hole to pipe the body. Remember to make 2 mirror sides to each body you pipe. With another meringue-filled piping bag, snip off a smaller opening and pipe the shape of Zero’s head. Don’t forget to include a long neck, which will not be visible on the finished cookie, but will be sandwiched between the two sides of the body to hold the head in place.
Bake your cookies for about 1 hour, until firm, then turn your oven off and allow the cookies to cool inside the oven for several hours or overnight.
Cookies can be made up to 5 days in advance, and kept in an air-tight container.
1 bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (10 oz.)
1 cup heavy cream
Set the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, then remove from heat and pour hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to melt the chocolate for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Chill the ganache for about 30 minutes, then use a hand mixer to beat until thick and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag and snip off the end.
1 cup chocolate chips
a few drops orange food coloring
a few drops red food coloring
Decorate zero’s head by melting the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in 15 second increments, stirring after each time until melted and smooth. Transfer the chocolate to a piping bag and snip off a small opening on the end. Pipe on the eyes and smile for the heads. With a clean, small pastry brush, paint the nose orange and the collar red.
Transfer your chocolate ganache to another piping bag and snip off a larger opening. Spread the ganache on the underside of one of your cookie bodies. Set the head in place by pushing the neck into the ganache. Pipe a bit more ganache on the other side of the neck, then use your mirror cookie body to create a cookie sandwich. Do be careful when pressing the sandwhich halves together - meringue cookies can be very delicate. Sit your Zero up to make sure he’s balanced.