“Trick or treat?”
When I was a kid, I always secretly wanted the person who answered the door when we called out to offer us a trick instead. You know, pull a rabbit out of a hat, a scarf out of a sleeve – to be honest, a “Got your nose!” would have sufficed. But no, we got packages of candy, miniature bags of chips, and a toothbrush (from the neighborhood dentist).
Those were the days when Mrs. Bennett (the unbelievably old woman in the cul-de-sac across the street who only answered her door at Halloween, but otherwise snowed no sign of existence for the remaining 364 days of the year) would give us homemade candy apples or caramel corn, or the family directly across the alley from us would offer spookily shaped marshmallow squares.
Halloween has changed since then, obviously, but I still love it just as much. It’s due to a mixture of birthday frenzy (both my mom and I have birthdays around this time), dressing up in costume, and, of course, the food. It’s the one time of year I can completely butcher a dish intentionally and be proud. The uglier, the better.
For this year’s festivities I’m making a ghoulish assortment of treats, but my very favourite creation is a batch of Dusty Old Bones. Read on for the recipe… if you dare.
Dusty Old Bones
Makes approximately 72 bones
Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Sweet Bones
3 egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of sea salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder (alternately, use the scrapings from one vanilla bean)
Chocolate cookie crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites and sugar. Place the medium bowl inside of a large bowl that has been filled ¼ of the way with hot water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high for eight minutes.
3. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a round decorating tip (I use a #12). Alternately, use a large Ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Pipe small bone shapes (about 1×2”) out onto the prepared pans, about ½ an inch apart.
4. Bake bones in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating half way through. Turn the oven off and let rest for 15 minutes with the door closed. Open the oven door and let cool completely for about 1 hour.
5. To serve: place a layer of chocolate cookie crumbs on your serving dish (a terracotta pot works great!), followed by a layer of bones; repeat. Bones will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.