Halloween is Baking Season



At last, the weather’s taken a turn for the chillier and the leaves are starting to turn orange. In case there was any doubt previously, we now know for certain that Autumn is upon us. And with the season comes the prospect of all sorts of fall festivities like trick-or-treating, taking your kids to the dentist because of Halloween-induced cavities, enjoying a good campy horror movie, re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and staking out the nearest pumpkin patch awaiting the arrival of The Great Pumpkin.

 

Here are four ideas for Fall-themed confections to take with you to your next Halloween party, Oktoberfest, or campy horror movie night. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are both fairly popular and thus widely-known. So rather than suggest those, I’m listing a few ideas which, from what I’ve seen, are a bit more uncommon, but no less delicious.

 

Orange is the New Brown-ie

I like brownies, but eating the same plain brownies gets kind of old after a while. It just so happens that the orange pumpkin color complements the darker shades of chocolate, resulting in an aesthetically-pleasing brownie experience that also tastes pretty good to boot. For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Pumpkin filling (see next section)

  • Brownie mix of your choosing

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup of vegetable oil

 

I don’t make my own brownie mix, so I typically follow the directions on the back of the brownie mix box. Depending on which brand you use, your recipe may vary. However, the pumpkin filling remains a constant.

 

First, you’ll want to make your pumpkin filling. After you finish the filling would be a good time to start preheating your oven. For the pumpkin filling…

 

Pumpkin Filling

This recipe makes enough pumpkin filling for a whole batch of the brownies, or enough for a whole batch of the cookies (see next page), and then some. If you REALLY love pumpkin, you may want to adjust your recipe accordingly so that you produce more pumpkin filling.

  • ¼ cup of sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

  • A dash of salt

  • ½ egg

  • ¼ can of evaporated milk

  • ½ cup of pumpkin

  • Whipped cream (optional)

  • Pumpkin spice (optional)

 

Stir the sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in one bowl.

 

Beat the egg in another bowl. Add pumpkin and stir.

 

Gradually stir in the sugar/cinnamon/salt mix alongside the evaporated milk. Stir until it’s reached a moderately thick consistency. Now you’re ready to use it for your baking project.

 

Put your brownies in the oven to bake for a few minutes. Once they start solidifying slightly (around 7-10 minutes), take the brownies out of the oven and then apply a layer of the pumpkin filling. Put the brownies back in the oven and give it another 20 minutes or so. Check on them periodically and take them out once you see fit.
 

I like to add a dollop of whipped cream on top of my brownies because whipped cream tastes great and because it adds a little bit more color to our already colorful end result. You can also use pumpkin spice to add a bit more flavor if you so desire.

 

Pumbprint Cookies

I’m a big fan of thumbprint cookies. Not only is shortbread amazing, but you also have that delectable jelly filling which provides another nice flavor to contrast while also adding some color to the cookie. Rather than go for a more traditional strawberry-flavored filling, we’re going to spice things up a bit and give these shortbread cookies some Fall flair by using pumpkin-flavored filling. This recipe creates approximately 30 cookies and requires:

  • Pumpkin filling (see below)

  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream

  • 1 egg yolk*

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • 1 cup of unsalted softened butter

  • 2/3 cup of sugar

  • ½ teaspoon of salt

  • Pumpkin spice (optional)

*I recommend saving the egg whites for the pumpkin filling recipe; it does not require a full egg for the amount that’s required for the purposes of these recipes.

 

Mix egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla together in a bowl. If you do not have heavy cream, then milk with corn starch is a perfectly workable substitute.

 

Mix butter and sugar in your stand mixer for about two minutes.

 

Add your yolk/cream/vanilla mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix them for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, as you see fit.

 

Add salt and flour to the whole thing and mix your concoction until it starts to feel solid and doughy. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit).

 

Wash your hands and then start rationing out your dough into small circles on a cookie sheet. I made mine around 2 inches in diameter, though your taste may vary. Be sure to leave some space in between each cookie because they expand a little.

 

Make some thumbprints in your cookies. Pour the pumpkin filling into the thumbprints and add a pinch of pumpkin spice if you see fit.

 

Bake your cookies until they start to become slightly brown on the edges. This should take around 15-20 minutes. Periodically check on them and take them out when you are ready.

The Nightmare Before Cakesmas Pops

Though it can be an arduous task to make cake pops, one of the nice things about cake pops is that you can bust them out for just about any occasion. Halloween is no exception. You don’t have to embellish your cake pops with the exact designs shown in this picture and can instead opt to do jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, or other Halloween-themed items or figures. You’ll need:

  • ½ cup of decorator icing (Wilton® is the brand I recommend)

  • 5 cups of cake mix

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 cup of water

  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil

  • ½ cup of pudding and pie filling mix

  • 8-inch lollipop sticks

  • ½ cup of white candy melts (color is up to your discretion)

  • EZ Thin ®

  • Sprinkles, food dye, or anything you want to decorate the pops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, and water in a very large bowl.

Get out a 9x13 pan and coat it with nonstick spray. Pour your mix into it.

Bake your combination for 40 minutes or so. Start checking on it around 30 minutes to make sure you’re not overcooking it. Once it’s all done, take it out and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Add your icing to the mix. Now, wash your hands and start crumbling your cake. Alternately, if you have young kids, this is a great activity for them since it allows them to have fun and contribute. Trust me, kids love to mash things.

Begin forming your cake mix into smaller spheres. Make them as large or small as you see fit. Once they’re all formed, impale them with lollipop sticks and then refrigerate them for 5-10 minutes.

While your cake pops are in the fridge, you’ll need to melt your candy melts. Microwaving them works just fine; alternately, just follow the directions they have on the package, which may vary depending on the brand. Once they’re done melting, check their consistency and ensure they’re good for dipping. If the melted product is too viscous, then you can use EZ Thin® to help thin it out.

Take your cake pops out of the fridge and begin dipping them in your melted candy melt solution. At this point, you’re about finished with all the heavy lifting. You can now get creative and start adorning your cake pops with sprinkles, food dye, or whatever else you deem fit in order to make your cake pops as Halloween-y as possible.

Mummies in a Blanket

Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with some lame pun for this one. Fortunately, this is the easiest and most straightforward recipe of the bunch, and it’s my sole savory offering, so if you’re averse to sweets for whatever reason, I can at least offer you this recipe, which needs:

  • Hot dogs. I always go with Hebrew National® even though I’m not Jewish, just because they’re so darn tasty.

  • Biscuit dough

  • Mustard

See what I mean by simple? This recipe’s just like making pigs in a blanket, with the only conspicuous difference being the blanket arrangement. If you want to get started on this one, then preheat your oven to 350.

 

First, cut your biscuit dough into small strips. Use these to wrap the hot dogs. Do note that the biscuit dough expands, so you won’t want to oversize the strips.

 

Put them in the oven until the dough starts to lightly brown (see picture). This should take around 15 minutes.

 

Add mustard to make the eyes. And that’s all, folks!