To see the details behind this series of Halloween-inspired cookies, visit my cookie blog with a click here.
Halloween will be back in only 361 days, so I am here to help you get into proper mood for it. Truth is, I had so much fun making these recipes, I cannot stand the idea of waiting for months and months to share. Let me introduce you then to some Friendly Ghost Cookies, Witches’ Fingers, and a Gingerbread Coffin with a chocolate cake inside so delicious that a dead body will rest forever happy.
FRIENDLY GHOST SUGAR COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
360 g all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
215 g granulated sugar
2 tsp orange zest
¼ tsp salt
227 g cup butter, cold and cut in pieces
3/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia extract
1/2 tsp cardamom
4 Tablespoons meringue powder
½ cup water
1 pound powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup (such as Karo)
a few drops of almond extract
Heat oven to 360F. Make the cookie dough. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, Fiori di Sicilia, orange zest and cardamom, mix well. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
Dough can be rolled right away in between sheets of parchment paper. Roll to about 1/4″ thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, freeze for 5 minutes. Bake for about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before icing.
Make the Royal icing. In the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer, with paddle attachment the water and meringue powder for a couple of minutes. Add the powdered sugar (sift over the bowl), corn syrup and almond extract. Beat on high speed for about 5 minutes.
Divide the Royal icing in three portions, one large will be left white. Two small portions will be dyed black and orange. Flood the cookies with white icing and decorate with black and orange details as shown in the pictures. Allow to fully dry before serving them.
to print the recipe click here
Comments: The recipe makes quite a bit of cookies, feel free to halve them if you prefer. Rolling the dough and baking is not a big deal, but of course the decoration demands a bit of time. I made them one evening after work and had this little voice talking to myself “why didn’t you make just half?”
The composite picture below shows you how easy it is to make the decoration for the little ghosts. Three lines, wet on wet, and a needle to pull the lines through, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. I cannot take credit for it, I saw a similar design somewhere in Pinterest world.
RECIPE STEPS IN PICTURES
Comments: At first I was a bit insecure about how much green dye to use (secret is to use less than you think you need), and how to exactly shape the fingers. Well, don’t worry too much about it, no matter how you do it, the result will be gruesome and horrific. Which is pretty much the goal of the bake, right? They taste delicious, and the
nails almonds add a nice flavor to them. As to the jam, I used raspberry jam with a tiny drop of red food color to intensify the effect. The jam by itself was not as red as I wanted.
Moving on to the final bake…
for the gingerbread dough:
660 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
4 Tablespoons meringue powder
½ cup water
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
a few drops of almond extract
for the caramel glue:
200 g sugar
60 mL water
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
for the chocolate cake:
463 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
70 g Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (237 g) water
3/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
220 g all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
for the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
for the Royal icing decoration:
(same recipe as sugar cookies)
Make the gingerbread dough. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey and molasses.
Slowly add the flour mixture until well combined. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour.
Heat oven to 350°F. Working with a third of dough at a time, roll out to ¼-inch thickness on parchment paper well dusted with flour. Cut the pieces you need for the coffin, and transfer the cut pieces to the freezer for about 10 minutes. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. They must be crisp and dry but not getting dark.
Cool them completely before icing and once the icing is dry, assemble the coffin using caramel.
Make the caramel. Put the sugar and water in a large, low-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to 320 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the syrup is ready when the sugar has dissolved and it turns a golden color, not too dark. Swirl the syrup gently in the pan to even out the color. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a few moments to thicken slightly to the consistency of honey. Dip the edges of the pieces you intend to glue and assemble them. Drizzle additional caramel if needed using a small spoon.
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, cocoa, and baking soda. Add to it 1 cup of boiling water, stir well and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Pour the hot cocoa mixture into a mixing bowl, add the oil and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined. On low speed, mix the flour into the batter and then add the eggs, egg yolks and buttermilk. Do not over-mix. Pour the very thin batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 35 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when tested in the center of the cake. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a rack. Run a thin knife around the edge and jar the edge of the pan to loosen. Invert onto the serving platter. Cool completely, then cut in pieces to fit inside the gingerbread coffin. You will have to do some assembling to fit some of the cut pieces in the bottom of the coffin.
Make the chocolate icing. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler. Add corn syrup and set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. use immediately, pouring it gently over the cake, once it’s inside the gingerbread coffin. Allow it to set for a few hours at room temperature. Use Royal Icing to draw a skeleton inside, if you so desire, or use powdered sugar and a stencil.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Your cake will be baked in a 13 x 9 rectangular pan. You should draw a design for the coffin that makes the lid no bigger than 12.5 inches in length. The sides should be 2.5 inches in height. It is a pretty easy design, I made the pieces in cardboard and used those to cut the gingerbread dough. The recipe has a reasonably small amount of baking powder, so that the dough does not change much during baking, but you can always use a Microplane grater to bring the edges into better shape.
Most gingerbread sculptures are assembled with very thick Royal icing. It has its problems – I will discuss those a bit more in a future post. Caramel sounds dangerous because it’s so hot and if you burn yourself it’s not fun at all, but the advantage is that it glues quickly and you don’t have the white stuff joining every piece. That is nice for a house or other structures, but I prefer the coffin to be more austere. Apart from having to clean the pan after making the caramel, I liked the method better than Royal icing for assembling. Live and learn.
The cake was absolutely wonderful even next day, moist, intense, it gave a bit of moisture to the gingerbread base, which I did not roll as thin as I should have. I need a lot more practice with this type of dough, and find that particularly to roll large pieces, I have issues keeping it thin and uniform. At any rate, Karl Lagerfeld did not seem to mind cutting pieces for Spider Woman. And she was delighted for catching him in her dangerous web. They do make a nice match, even if I say so myself. Biased, who moi?
I hope you enjoyed this little roundup of Halloween recipes. It is a scary job, but someone has to do it.
ONE YEAR AGO: Devil Wears Chocolate
TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, and Fennel
THREE YEARS AGO: The Best, the Very Best Hummus
FOUR YEARS AGO: Cheddar Cheese Crackers
FIVE YEARS AGO: A New Take on Cauliflower Puree
SIX YEARS AGO: In My (NEW!) Kitchen
SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie
NINE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup
TEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101
Red Velvet cake and Halloween is a match made in heaven. Heaven and Halloween? What have I done here? Oh, well. To make them even better, stab each cupcake with “broken glass” and make them “bleed!”
BLOODY RED VELVET CUPCAKES
(decoration from Recipes by Carina)
for the cupcakes:
160g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
85 g (6 tablespoons) butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
2 T cocoa powder (I used natural)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tablespoon red food dye
for the frosting:
170 g unsalted butter, softened
500 g cream cheese, cut in pieces, at room temperature
260 g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
for the broken glass decoration:
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
for the fake blood:
½ cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
1-4 tsp red food gel
drops of blue food gel
Heat oven to 350 F. Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Reserve. Cream softened butter with sugar using a KitchenAid type mixer with paddle attachment.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, egg, and red food color. When the butter and sugar are well mixed and the mixture is pale, add the egg, mix briefly and add the cocoa powder. Once the mixture more or less smooth, add the flour in three additions, and the liquids in two, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the batter to regular size cupcake pans, lined with paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting. Put the softened butter in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth. Add the pieces of softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl, a small amount at a time. When all cream cheese is added and combined, beat for about 1 minute then add the powdered sugar in three portions, adding the vanilla after the last third portion.
Beat for 2 to 3 minutes more, but do not over-mix or the mixture can become loose.
Make the decorations. In a saucepan measure out the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and water. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes until the sugar starts to change colour or until it reaches 300F.
Pour the melted sugar out onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to the fridge for a few hours to harden. Break shards when ready to decorate the cupcakes.
Make the fake blood. In a bowl mix together the syrup and cornstarch until combined. If needed, add water to reach proper consistency. Add the food gel, small amount at a time until you have a deep dark red shade. Spoon the blood over the cupcakes.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Once these cupcakes were done, I thought that another cute way to present the same idea would be a red velvet jelly roll type cake, with little blobs of cream cheese frosting on top and the glass shards properly stabbed here and there. And blood. A lot of it. Obviously.
Have a great Halloween celebration, whatever scary thing is on your menu. I leave you with a shot from 2013, when we went to a party with the graduate students from our department. Halloween was Aritri’s favorite holiday and this week I cannot take her out of my mind.
ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Meatballs, Slow-Cooker Version
TWO YEARS AGO: Elaine’s Sourdough Boule
THREE YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon and Walnut Cake
FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars
FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing
SIX YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast
NINE YEARS AGO: Panmarino
TEN YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken
To Halloween or Not to Halloween, that is the question…
That’s up to you to decide. They can be very elegant served without any special decoration…
Or you can let your creative juices flow free…
(adapted from several sources, including Craftsy.com)
for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Orange Gel color from AmeriColor
¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice bakery emulsion (if unavailable, use 2 drops of vanilla extract)
for the filling:
3 tablespoons (40 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (130 g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
for decoration (optional):
luster dust in black and gold
1/8 teaspoon gin for each color
Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.
Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the pumpkin spice emulsion (or vanilla). Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.
Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.
Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.
While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 330 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Make the filling: Cream the butter with the powdered sugar with a hand mixer, until incorporated and creamy. Add the other ingredients, continue beating until smooth. You should have the exact amount to fill this batch of macarons.
Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Paint decorations with luster dust dissolved in gin, if so desired. Let it dry and store the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: These turned out so delicious! The pumpkin extract used in the shells gave them a subtle flavor that complemented the filling quite well. I found mine at Marshalls but included a link in the recipe for you to get it at amazon.com, if interested. These macarons scream Fall loud and clear. Once again I used my trustworthy recipe from Colette Christian over at Craftsy. I cannot praise her classes enough. During a recent sale event, I bought her Éclairs lesson, and it is simply outstanding. Plus, if you have any questions, she usually answers quite quickly. Very helpful, and very knowledgable. Yes, you read me correctly: éclairs are on my list of goodies to attempt in the very near future. Wish me luck…
I must thank Phil for saving the day with these Halloween-styled macarons. I had a different idea for decorating them, but let’s say it was a disaster. As I walked in circles around the kitchen, feeling miserable and hopeless, he suggested painting crazy faces on the shells, and we had a blast doing it together. Great project to do with kids, by the way. I used luster dust (available in amazon.com) in black and gold, mixed with a touch of gin. No worries, it evaporates, so these are kid-friendly. And approved by graduate students too…
ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Cooked Whole Chicken
TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting
THREE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey-Mustard Dressing
FOUR YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen on Fire!
FIVE YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
SIX YEARS AGO: Chiarello’s Chicken Cacciatore
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Donna Hay’s Thai-Inspired Dinner
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Panettone
I made these treats for our Halloween party last year, and waited to blog now, so there’s plenty of time for you to make them in case you are hosting a party, or just feel like sharing something with friends on Halloween week. Very easy and fun. First, Screamingly Cute Chocolate-Covered Pretzels.
They were fun to make, even if slightly messy. But that could very well be operator-error. I am not that skilled when it comes to melted chocolate. You will need a bag of pretzels, melting chocolate (the best kind is this one, according to many sources), and eyeball candy. Sounds scary, right? Well, it’s for Halloween, it must be scary!
Second, even simpler to put together: Witch Brooms. Peanut Butter Cups with a strategically placed Pretzel stick. The flavors all work well together too. Hardest part of making them, is unwrapping the peanut butter cups. Be Zen. And enjoy the moment.
If you make the Screaming Pretzels, handle the eye-ball candy with impeccably clean hands. Any chocolate that gets to the white candy will be hard to clean once you place them on the pretzel. Tweezers help. It will be easier to glue them while the chocolate is not fully set, but then it’s best not to try to re-adjust their position. Work slowly and you’ll get the hang of it. I am sure it will surprise you that I had never had the combo of pretzel with chocolate. It works! It is really a delicious combination, a little crunch, a little salt, a lot of chocolate.
A call from the past… one of our favorite Halloween costumes, back in 2002. John and Olivia…
Hey, who said scientists cannot be a little silly?
ONE YEAR AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake
TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats
THREE YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A Farewell to Summer
FOUR YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon
FIVE YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs
SIX YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Got Spinach? Have a salad!