The trick-or-treaters have come and gone, our candy bowl is empty, yet ever drawer I open in my house I find my kids’ “hidden” Halloween candy. Each night this week, I found myself asking my children how much candy they’ve eaten that day. In an effort to control their intake and help rid our house of all that leftover candy, I put on my chief’s thinking hat last night. What better way to recycle all that candy, and reinvent one of my favorite desserts, then combine the two. The outcome…Candy Meringue Surprises.
Meringue Surprises have been in my family since my Great-aunt Vita, and continue to be one of my family’s favorite desserts. Because their only enemy is humidity, meringues are the perfect treat to make this time of the year. My daughter Sarah loves them because they are gluten-free and fun to make. Adding a bit of candy to the Meringue’s makes them colorful, tasty, and even more of a Surprise! The best part is you can use almost whatever candy you’d like. My favorites include folding 1 cup of crushed candy canes or peppermint candies into the egg white mixture before they go on the baking sheet, or topping the formed meringues with skittles, m & m’s and other little candies. Be creative, involve the kids, and recycle some of that leftover Halloween candy. Cheers!
Great-aunt Vita cooked these overnight, using the heat from the pilot in her gas oven. Today, I cook them in my home oven set at a 200°F. I line up four bowl on the counter: one for the cracked shells, one for the whites, one for breaking each egg into to make sure there is no yolk in it before I slip it into the bowl with the other whites, and one for the yolks. These meringues have only one enemy: humidity. So I don’t make them on humid summer days.
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tarter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a half pan (18 by 13 inches) with parchment paper.
You will need four small bowls, preferably glass, and one large, chilled metal bowl.
Crack one egg at a time, letting the yolk drop into one bowl. If there is no yolk in the white, then slip the white into a second bowl. Repeat with all four eggs. (If you make a yolk-in-the-white mistake, just save that white for later cooking use.)
Pour the egg whites into the chilled metal bowl and, with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the whites until foamy. Add the cream of tarter and salt. Beat on high speed until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing on high speed. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl. The egg white will form mountains (as Great-aunt Vita used to say). Once all the sugar is added, gently mix in the vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips and the pecans if desired.
Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons, about 1 inch apart, onto the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven. Do not open the oven door. Let the meringues rest in the residual heat for 30 additional minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the meringues cool completely to room temperature. Lift them off with a thin spatula and store in large, covered tins in layers between parchment or waxed paper.
To add a little color, extra kick, or to simply use up all that left over candy you have around the house, I like to add different types of candy to my meringues. Fold in 1 cup crushed candy canes/peppermint candies to the egg whites before the batter goes on the pan to bake. Another option is right before the meringues go into the oven, top each one with a few skittles, m & m’s, or any hard candy.