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The Blood & Bones of My Enemies (Vegan Meringues & Black Cherry Dipping Sauce)

T. Rex has been binge-watching Game of Thrones the last few weeks and all of that sword-fighting has wormed its way into my psyche. Hence the name of this recipe…and since these meringues are actually vegan, I get a kick out of the irony!

Made from aquafaba—the liquid from canned chickpeas—these meringue bones taste like crunchy marshmallows. Their sweetness pairs nicely with a slightly spicy black cherry sauce that looks like drying blood. It’s a delicious and creepy-funny effect for Halloween.

Making aquafaba is as simple as opening up a can of chickpeas and draining off the liquid. However, the aquafaba must be cold or the meringues won’t set. Also, use organic canned chickpeas--they do not contain firming agents or weird preservatives.

Meringues are not fond of humidity so make them on a dry day.

Make the Meringue Bones:

¾ cup cold aquafaba

½ tsp cream of tartar

1/8 tsp salt

¾ cup granulated white sugar

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Layer two sheet pans with parchment paper and fit a large piping bag with a round tip. Set aside.

Place the aquafaba in a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the aquafaba for 1 minute on medium-low speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. While continuing to beat the ingredients, gradually add the sugar (occasionally scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula). Beat for 4 – 5 minutes or until the meringues have stiff peaks and are glossy. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 – 2 minutes more.

Carefully spoon the meringue mixture into the piping bag. Firmly make bone shapes—get creative—on the parchment paper.

Place the sheet pans in the oven for 1-1/2 hours. Do not open the oven door while it’s baking. After it’s finished baking, turn the heat off and keep the oven closed for 2-1/2 hours or until the meringues are completely cool.

Store the meringues in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 24 – 30 bones depending on the size and shapes you choose.

Make the Black Cherry Dipping Sauce:

12 oz package of frozen black cherries, defrosted but not drained

1 – 2 TBS granulated white sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1 TBS lemon juice

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place the black cherries into a blender. Pulse on low. Gradually increase the speed until the black cherries are completely blended.

Strain the black cherries through a fine mesh sieve; this is much easier if you use a small gravy ladle or ¼-cup measuring cup to work the blended black cherries through the sieve. Discard the pulp.

Place the purée into a medium-size pot. Depending on the sweetness of the cherries, add 1 – 2 TBS of sugar (or to taste). Sift the cornstarch into the black cherries and add a pinch of salt.

Stir until all ingredients are well-combined. Turn the heat on low. Stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, cook for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cayenne pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat. Allow to cool slightly and pour into a small serving bowl (you’ll have about 1-1/4 cups). Refrigerate until cold and then serve alongside the meringues.

Don’t Freak Out!

1) You can also make aquafaba from the juice of canned Great Northern beans.

2) Whenever I open up a can or box of chickpeas for another recipe, I drain the liquid, put it in a freezer-safe container, label it, and store it in my freezer for up to 6 months. I defrost the aquafaba in the fridge overnight.

3) White sugar is not necessarily vegetarian. Cane sugar may be filtered through charred cow’s bones (although it's use is declining). Beet sugar tends to be vegetarian (but may also have been grown from GMO seeds). Some white sugars that are free of bone char are those produced by Pioneer, Wholesome!, SuperValu, Florida Crystals and Western Sugar...but the best practice is to contact the sugar producer--even the ones I've listed--directly.

4) If you want your bones to be all the same size, trace a bone-shaped cookie cutter repeatedly on one side of the parchment paper in pencil. Flip the parchment paper so the pencil side is on the pan and pipe the meringue in the outlines. Or you can just wing it!

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