Makes 8 to 12 ghosts
Photo: Carol Shih; Styling: Margo True and Carol Shih

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 200° with racks in upper and lower third. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or butter the baking sheets and dust with flour.

Step 2

In a deep bowl, with a mixer on high speed, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and foamy. While beating, slowly add sugar, a few tablespoons at a time every 30 seconds or so, then whip until meringue holds very stiff peaks.

Step 3

Beat in vanilla. If using parchment, smear a little meringue on the underside of each corner to make it stick to baking sheets.

Step 4

Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (or spoon into a gallon-size heavy plastic food bag, then cut off 1 corner to make a 1/2-inch-wide opening). Hold bag perpendicular to baking sheet and pipe, with even pressure, to form 2-in.-tall mounds of meringue. (If you make them taller, they'll fall over.) If you want to give the ghosts arms, put some meringue in a smaller bag, snip a smaller opening (or use a smaller tip), and pipe arms onto ghosts.

Step 5

Bake meringues until they're firm to the touch and no longer sticky but not yet beginning to brown, 1 to 1 1/2 hours; switch pan positions halfway through baking. Turn off heat and leave meringues in closed oven for several hours or overnight.

Step 6

Put chocolate in a 2-cup glass measure and heat in a microwave until melted, 80 seconds, stopping and stirring every 20 seconds.

Step 7

Spoon chocolate into a small piping bag with a tiny tip (or a resealable plastic bag with a tiny corner cut off). With steady but slow pressure, squeeze chocolate onto ghosts to create a variety of expressions.

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