The ghosts and goblins were scarce this Halloween as the poor weather must have scared them off, but I was ready with tons of goulish treats for all who cared to dare.
SPIDER WEB FLORENTINE COOKIES
I decided to start with some spider web Florentine cookies. These are so easy to make and kids can help decorate them. Any simple cookies (sugar cookies) will work well.
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup cream – 10%
1 teaspoon caramel vanilla / see below note
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate
NOTE: caramel vanilla
I like to make my own vanilla. It is incredibly easy to do so. Vodka and vanilla beans – what could be easier? I decided to experiment and try caramel flavoured vodka with my vanilla beans.
– split 3-4 vanilla beans ( I use Madagascar Bourbon Beans) I get my beans from Vanilla Food Company Vanilla Beans
– 1 litre Caramel flavoured vodka
Pour Vodka in glass container (I use a large Wreck jar) and add vanilla beans
Let beans soak in vodka for 4-6 weeks
Like magic – you will then have PURE vanilla
– even better: you can just continue to add more vodka to beans and continue to use the same vanilla beans
Heat oven to 375 degrees
Place coconut on cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes (NOTE: watch carefully as coconut can burn quickly; I have had to ditch a lot of coconut in my days!). Coconut should be a nice lightly toasted brown colour with some still white portion remaining.
To melted butter add oatmeal, sugar, flour, cream, and vanilla in a large bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Add corn syrup and honey then mix. Add almonds and toasted coconut and stir until just mixed.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. These cookies will REALLY stick, so you need parchment.
Drop about 1-1.5 teaspoon (NOTE: don’t be tempted to add more as the cookies will spread out significantly).
Bake for 6-8 minutes watching very carefully as they burn really easily. They should be slightly golden when you take them out of oven. Remember they will continue to cook on the cookie sheet after you remove them from oven.
Let cookies cool on wire rack. Be careful when removing as they are quite a fragile cookie!
Once cookies are completely cooled you can decorate. I used Lindt dark chocolate (did not bother to temper chocolate for these cookies – as I knew they would not last long) I used a piping bag and snipped a REALLY small hole at end. If you don’t have a piping bag you can use a zip-lock bag and snip corner (make sure hole is really small) You can melt you chocolate in a double boiler on stove or in microwave. I zapped my chocolate in 20-second intervals – until melted through. I also attempted to make spiders, but they ended up looking like some kind of weird mutant frog.
GRAVEYARD RED VELVET CAKE
Next on the list was a red velvet cake. Seemed perfect for Halloween. You know red/blood all that good stuff. So I went on the hunt for the perfect recipe. I searched my endless amount of cookbooks (71 to be precise) and every recipe I found called for red food colouring. I have to say I was abit disillusioned. I love red velvet cake and have had it many times from endless amount of bakeries. However, it was always a bit of a mystery on how they got that chocolate cake the perfect shade of red. I can’t believe it is food colouring. I set out to find a recipe that didn’t include artificial colouring. My solution lied in beets. Yes, you heard me right – BEETS! It’s a real messy job, but well worth the effort.
3/4 cup pureed beets
I roasted 6 beets in 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours – continually adding water to pan. Once completely cooled I peeled and pureed them.
16 tablespoons soften unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Grease three 9″ cake pans and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in small bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, beet puree, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl.
In a stand mixer with paddle – beat sugar and butter on medium high until pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes.
Add eggs to sugar/butter mixture – one at a time and mix well after each addition.
On low speed add above flour mixture then buttermilk mixture – alternating in 3 batches.
Once all ingredients are added beat on high for 10-15 seconds until smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pans and drop pans on counter to remove air bubbles.
Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).
Let cake cool in pans for 20 minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool.
I know what you are thinking – that looks pretty pink – and not red. Trust me once baked it comes out a nice chocolate red shade.
After cake is cooled you can ice. Typical icing for red velvet is cream cheese, but since it was Halloween I decided to use a chocolate buttercream. I layered cake with a cream cheese filling tinted with blood (really a dash of the left-over beet juice)
After cake was iced it was time for me to get creative. I used candy bones on top to circle the cake. I made chocolate gravestones. I headed to my craft room and grabbed 4 creepy stickers (holograms) that change into vampires when you look at them from a certain angle. Very cool. I attached these stickers to candy sticks and added them to the top of cake. Now for the tricky part – the scary pointy fence that surrounds the graveyard. I melted about 2 cups of Lindt chocolate and poured a thin layer on parchment paper. When glossy and slightly hard I cut out 11 large triangles. It’s important to place these on the cake when still slightly soft so you can form the chocolate around base (I waited too long and mine were too hard by the time I attached them). If you use gloves you also will be less likely to get finger prints on your chocolate. Once my chocolate triangles were on the cake (NOTE: I added a bit of frosting at back to hold them securely), my final touch was to drip red gel on the points to look like blood.
These are Soooo cute – and are Soooo easy to make. These are also perfect for kids to help out in the kitchen. The piping is really easy so they can even make their own ghosts.
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
3/4 cup white sugar
Set oven to 200 degrees
Add cream of tarter to egg whites and beat with electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add sugar slowly and mix on high until stiff peaks form (about 4 minutes). Turn bowl upside down to ensure nothing moves.
Add whipped egg whites to piping bag with a #5 plain tip (that’s the big one; it really is just a hole). If you don’t have a piping bag just use a zip-lock bag and cut a large hole in corner.
Pipe large mounds on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (NOTE: you are not moving while piping; just squeeze mounds straight down and finish with a peak, but really you can make your ghost any shape you like!).
Cook for 1 hr 15 minutes (DO NOT let meringue brown -have you every seen a brown ghost?)
Turn oven off and leave cookie tray in oven for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
When completely cooled you can add your face to your ghost.
I used black gel. I thought it worked really well. You can also melt some chocolate and use a toothpick to add eyes and mouth. If kids are decorating you can use a food marker as they may find it easier to manipulate.
Orange Scream Puffs
I made these amazing cream puffs in my baking class (details to come in future post), but since I coloured the cream orange I decided to post for Halloween.
Family Tradition Halloween Pie
I have been making this pie for the last 18 years. My kids and hubby always looked forward to this pie after they were out for hours trick-or-treating. Since my daughter is off at university and my son usually doesn’t care one way or the other I actually contemplated not making this pie this year. I also had so many other treats it really was not necessary. Then I thought “How can I not make this pie?” it has become a family tradition. So much so that my daughter called me from school asking for detailed instructions on how to make this pie for her friends. Now there’s a real trick – passing down a family tradition 1,000 miles!
1 1/2 cup Oreo crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1 litre orange sherbet
1 tub cool whip
mini Oreo cookies
1/2 tub cool whip
decorations – gummy worms/Halloween theme sprinkles
Make pie crust – preheat oven to 350 degrees
mix Oreo crumbs, butter, and sugar in a small bowl-mix well
press into bottom of 9″ pie plate
bake for 7-10 minutes
NOTE: you can cheat and buy the pre-made oreo crust (I honestly think it tastes better then the homemade and saves time)
take sherbet out of freezer and let thaw slightly (just enough so easy to mix)
fold into sherbert the full tub of cool whip
place mini Oreos on bottom of cooled pie crust
pour sherbet/cool-whip mixture on top of mini Oreos
cover with half tub of cool-whip and decorate with spooky gummy worms and Halloween theme sprinkles (really you can decorate any way you like, so be creative!). I used my mutant chocolate frogs.
Place in freezer and let set at least 2 hours
Remove from freezer 10 minutes before ready to serve so it is easy to cut
Well that’s it. Another Halloween has come and gone. It always makes me sad that I have to wait another year before I can experiment with spooky-goulish treats. Thankfully, Christmas is coming!!