Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creepy Crawly Cake & Graveyard Trifle

You all are in for a Halloween Treat! This post consists of two fun, creepy & spooky treats that you should definitely make for your Halloween party this weekend...only 3 more days until Oct you have your costumes and candy for the trick-or-treaters yet? My husband and I are going to be Popeye & Olive Oyl this will have to check back for a picture of us in full costume after the weekend!

So to get a head start on the Halloween festivities, last night I had a few of my marathon running friends over to my house. First we met at the Mellow Mushroom, a local pizza joint for their Tuesday night running club and ran a 5K course...then we headed back to my house for a Pasta & Gel Tasting party. In case you don't know what "gel" is, that is fancy marathon lingo for the type of "fuel" you need to take while running long distances to give you energy to keep running since you are burning so many calories during the course of the 26.2 mile race. We sampled, all different brands and consistencies of fuel from GU, Powerbar, Accel Gel, Clif Bar and Luna Moons. Some were good and some were just plain yucky, it was great to watch everyone's faces pucker as they tasted the different flavors...but enough of the gel talk...lets move on to more important to make these 2 cute and tasty Halloween desserts!

Halloween Dessert #1: Creepy Crawly Cake
This is a 3 layer yellow & chocolate marbled cake with a butter cream icing

Check out this buttercream is similar to a meringe consistency. This was the first time I had made an icing like this which called for sugar, 9 egg whites and guess how much aren't even going to believe how much butter, let's just say Paula Deen would be in BUTTER HEAVEN with the amount of butter in this cake....2 lbs, that's right TWO POUNDS of BUTTER...that equals 8 sticks! WOW, I have never used that much butter in a single recipe before.

I had cut out this recipe from Ladies' Home Journal magazine last year from their October 2008 edition so I have been waiting quite a long time to recreate this masterpiece.

Here goes my first spider web piping...I hope I don't mess this one up. It was nice to have the picture as a point of reference. First I sectioned off the cake by adding black line segments to disect the cake into somewhat equal sections.

Then I just started connecting the sections by drawing the web circles to fill out the spider web.

Now time to add the black, creepy, crawly spiders.

My husband even got in on the action and picked up his first piping bag and added the last 2 spiders to the cake. Maybe I can talk him into being my cake decorating assistant?

Creepy Crawly Cakes is complete! Not too bad for my first spider web.

Creepy Crawly Cake (Chocolate Marbled Spider Cake) - Ladies' Home Journal, Oct 2008

Makes 16 servings

Cake Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk

  • In small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar, the cocoa and warm water; set aside.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper; butter paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat together remaining 2 cups sugar and the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 min. Reduce speed to low and bet in extract. Add eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl, until combined.
  • Transfer 3 cups batter to bowl and stir in cocoa mixture. Evenly spoon dollops of white can coca batters into prepared pans. Using a knife, swirl batters to marbelize. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40-45 min. Transfer pans to wire racks and let cool 15 min. Remove cakes from pans, peel off paper and place right side up, on racks; let cool completely.
  • Transfer 1 1/2 cups buttercream to a decorating bag fitted wit ha #5 plain tip and set aside.
  • Slice domes off cakes to level. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread just to edges with 1 3/4 cups buttercream. Cover with second layer an spread with another 1 3/4 cups buttercream. Top with a third layer. Frost top and sides, smoothing with a spatula. Using reserved piping bag, pipe dots around cake base. Refrigerate until set, 20 to 25 min.
  • To decorate: Fit a decorating bag with a #2 plain tip. Cut bottom from black icing tube and transfer to decorating bag.
  • Pipe a spiderweb design on top and down sides of cake in varying lengths. To pipe spiders, hold icing tip in one place while squeezing tube to form a thick, round body. Pipe 8 thin legs out from each body. (Decorated cake can be made ahead. Store in a sealed cake container in the refrigerator up to 1 day.)
Touch of Black Buttercream

Makes 10 cups

2 1/2 cups sugar
9 large egg whites
2 lbs unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • In a medium heatproof bowl set over simmering water, combine sugar and egg whites; stir until hot and sugar is dissolved, about 5 min. Transfer to a mixer bowl and beat to firm peaks, about 8 min. While mixer is running, add butter, a few tbsp at a time, until completely combined. Reduce speed to low; beat in chocolate and extract. Use immediately. (Can be made ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

Halloween Dessert # 2: Graveyard Trifle
Start out by making a 9 x 13 pan of brownies and cutting them up into small bite size squares.

Check out all these CHOCOLATE ingredients that are going into the trifle: brownies, chocolate pudding, Oreo cookies and Milano cookies...can we say Chocolate coma?

You can't have a graveyard without some tombstones. Milano cookies were the perfect shape with the rounded top to create a tombstone. I had some leftover black icing from the Creepy Crawly Cake that I was able to use to pipe on "RIP" to each cookie.

Time to assemble the trifle...brownie, pudding, cool whip, Oreo cookie crumbs...and then repeat 2 times to fill the entire bowl.

I crushed up Oreo cookies to create the look of dirt for the graveyard, added in the tombstone cookies and then stuck in some ghost marshmallow Peeps. Just in case that was too "spooky" I wanted to add a little color with some orange sugar pumpkins to brighten it up a bit.

Easy Chocolate Trifle - recipe adapted from and then I added all the extra embellishments to create the "graveyard" look.

18 servings

1 box Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix, for 9 x 13 size pan
1 qt (4 cups) cold milk
2 pkg (4 serving size each ) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 tub (8 oz) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
16 Oreos, crushed (I crushed 10 Oreos for the middle layer of the trifle, and then 6 Oreos with the chocolate cookie part only, no cream filling for the top layer of the trifle)

  • Prepare brownie batter and bake in 9 x 13 pan as directed on package. Cool completely and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Add milk to dry pudding mix in medium bowl. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended.
  • Layer half each of the brownie cubes, pudding, whipped topping and crushed Oreos in a large glass trifle bowl. Repeat all layers. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Here's a quick look at my festive Halloween Dessert table. I found these really cute purple/black and green/black striped pails at Target and just couldn't resist...I had to get them because after all the marathon group that I coach for is called Team in Training and our colors are purple and green. I filled the pails with some assorted candy and had them as party favors for everyone to take home with them!

Here's a group shot of everyone enjoying the Creepy Crawly cake!

Stay tuned for another Halloween Dessert Table coming soon that I will be creating for my friend Jennifer's costume party this weekend!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caramel Apples

Granny Smith apples are my absolute favorite...I love their green color and their tartness! And when you combine them with caramel that is even better! Now let's make some caramel apples, shall we?

I came across these Caramel Bits by Kraft and thought this was a brilliant idea. These must be a new product because I have never seen these before...but they are definitely a lot less hassle than the traditional bag of caramel know the ones that are individually wrapped and as you unwrap them your fingers are getting all sticky and then the plastic sticks to your hands and you can't get it off. I think I will forever buy caramel bits for all future caramel melting needs.

That caramel looks so rich and silky and it melted in only 3 minutes on the stove.

You can't have a caramel apple without some chopped up nuts...

What is your favorite kind caramel apple: Just Caramel or Caramel with Nuts? Mine is definitely with nuts!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Candy Corn Cookies

It's not October without some good ole Candy Corn! I decided to make my own version of candy corn out of refrigerated sugar cookie dough. First I colored the dough orange by using some Wilton icing color and rolled it out flat.

Next step was to cut the dough into triangles that would resemble the shape of candy corn.

These candy corn look naked...they are missing some other colors like yellow, white and brown... what do you say we dip them in chocolate?

Heat a cup of Nestle white and milk chocolate morsels in the microwave at 30 second intervals and stir, keep heating until chocolate is melted. Dip the tips of the cookies in the desired chocolate to create the look of a traditional candy corn. I added a few drops of yellow food coloring to the white chocolate to create the yellow base of the cookie.

Oh these look so good.

Lets see how the candy corn cookies measure up to the traditional candy corn...pretty darn cute!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pink for the Cure!

Today marks the one year anniversay that I ran my first marathon (that is 26.2 miles!) last year in San Franciso at the Nike Women's Marathon as a member of Team in Training (TNT), an organization that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! Today there was another group of Mobile, AL TNT members out in San Fran running that race so I have been cheering them on from home all day...and can't wait to hear all about their marathon experiences! In celebration of my marathon anniversary, the new marathoners as of today and to support cancer in general I wanted to make something sweet! Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to make some pink ribbon shaped sugar cookies. I used Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough and rolled it out flat. I do not have a ribbon shaped cookie cutter so I had to get creative....

Once the dough was rolled out flat I cut it into strips

Then I rolled each strip into a long string of dough

and made it criss-cross into a ribbon far so good right?

Ribbon cookies ready to go into the oven....let's see what happens when they bake

ooops...they poofed up and ran together, looking more like a blob than a ribbon...I thought I had a good idea, but next time I will need to rethink this a bit more, taking into consideration what will happen once they are put in the oven.

I gave it another try and decided this time to dye some of the dough with some Wilton pink icing color. I dipped a toothpick into the icing jar and just added it to the dough and kneeded it with my hands until it turned pink.

I remembered I did have an Easter bunny cookie cutter shape, so I thought if I turned it upside down the "bunny ears" would now become the "tails" of the pink ribbons....

Then I used one of my decorating tips to cut out a circular hole in the ribbon

Not too bad for improvising a ribbon cookie cutter

After the cookies cooled I dipped them in an icing glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, a couple splashes of milk and red food coloring and stirred until desired consistency and color.

After adding some pink icing and some pink sugar sprinkles to dress up the cookies a bit, I guess they didn't turn out that bad afterall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

In my mind, Fall = PUMPKIN....lots and lots of pumpkin! This will be the first of many pumpkin flavored recipes that I plan on posting between now and Thanksgiving. So get ready to see all the different types of sweet treats that you can create with pumpkin.

I absolutely love these pumpkin cranberry cookies! There are so many great flavors and ingredients jam packed into these delicious treats. The combination of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg create such a pleasant fall aroma throughout the house as these cookies bake in the oven.

Then when you bite into these cookies you get the texture of the dried cranberries and the oatmeal. YUM! These cookies are so fluffy and moist...almost the consistency of a muffin or bread...they are not crunchy or gooey like your typical cookie. Is your mouth watering yet?

These cookies would be perfect to take to a holiday party, a cookie swap or just to have as an after dinner dessert, as we did tonight!

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

12 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Combine all-purpose flour, oats, whole wheat flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture. Fold in cranberries. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Drop dough by large spoonfuls two inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake is one of my absolute favorite is one that I always like to make once fall rolls around. I decided to make this recipe into cupcakes and decorate them with cute little carrots on top using my decorating tips for my neighbor Marilyn's birthday.

I find it is easiest if you measure out all the necessary ingredients before you start preparing your batter...that way you are sure not to forget anything.

I have found that when making cupcakes it is easiest to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup when filling the liners...the batter fills the liner 2/3 full which is perfect for having the cupcakes bake right up to the top.

All the cupcakes came out nice and even and none are splurging over the edges.

Once cupcakes are cool spread cream cheese frosting over top.

These cupcakes turned out so moist and delicious they just melt in your mouth! It's hard to eat just one!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall Mix!

Happy October! I have been anxiously awaiting Fall to arrive so I could make this FALL MIX! If you are in the mood for something both salty & sweet, you have got to try this!

All you have to do is combine 3 things: Planter's Cocktail Peanuts, Peanut M&M's & Brach's Autumn Mix (the assorted bag with the traditional white, orange and yellow candy corn, white orange and chocolate candy corn, & orange pumpkins.

Oh and one last thing...I picked out the red & blue M&Ms from the bag...only using the yellow, orange, green and brown ones to keep with the fall color scheme.

I was introduced to Fall Mix last October at the end of one of my 20 mile marathon training runs by my coach, Kelly. At the end of all our long runs we are told to eat a salty snack to help replenish the salt we have lost through our sweat while running. This was a great pick me up at the end of such a long run! Thanks Coach Kelly (CoKe) for such an awesome fall salty sweet treat!
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